Shiny red and black paint reflects in the sunlight on the new medical and brush truck as Creston Fire Chief Todd Jackson and several others line up for a quick photo Wednesday morning at the fire station.
The truck, which the department received July 22, was installed with a slide-in unit including a reel of hose and pump engine.
“Our old grass truck was a 1985. It was an old military truck,” Jackson said. “It was difficult to work on because parts were tough to get, plus it was a 24-volt system.”
The department’s new truck has been in the works for about two years, when firefighters began fundraising.
The truck, which was purchased in separate parts and put together, cost about $70,000 total and was paid for by the city of Creston, through funds raised by the Creston Volunteer Fire Department and donations and grants from CHS Inc., Farm Bureau, South Central Iowa Community Foundation, Department of Natural Resources Forestry and the Schildberg Foundation.
“Farm Bureau came through with most of what we wanted (with grain rescue equipment), and I guess we figured we might as well add to that if we could,” said Matt Ramaeker, Farm Bureau board member. “When they (firefighters) thought they had the need for the brush truck, well, why not go all out and get everything for them that we can?”
The 2016 Dodge is a 1-ton vehicle with crew cab and utility body. The slide-in unit was made by Heiman Fire. The truck has a 250-gallon tank and high-pressure pump, which is a newer style to allow firefighters to reach deeper underneath brush in case of grass fires.
“I think it looks really cool. I think they did a really good job doing their homework and finding out which equipment would be beneficial for them,” Ramaeker said. “This is something that when we find a need, we want to apply for the grant through Farm Bureau and get.”
The 1985 brush truck was transferred to Prescott Volunteer Fire Department, and the red Excursion was sold to Afton Volunteer Fire Department to help pay for the new grass fire and medical rig.
Since Aug. 4, when the slide-in unit was installed, the truck has been fully operational to respond to all calls, such as medicals, grass fires, accidents and moving additional personnel to various incidents.
“We called the firefighters and asked if they had any projects or anything they needed financial help with, and they said they needed more money to get the equipment and lights installed for the new truck,” said Tina Siddens, CHS stewardship committee member, about their annual stewardship donation. “This is something that will benefit our community. ... This isn’t something that will help one person, it’ll help many.”
Pros and cons
Because this new vehicle has a crew cab, more people can go on a call within the truck. Protocol has been increased to a minimum of three for that vehicle, rather than two, when it comes to a grass fire.
“Let’s say we go to a mutual aid fire,” Jackson said. “We can take a crew of four. We can take that truck and our Ranger, so when we’re on scene, we’ll have two crews working.”
Jackson’s favorite part of the truck is the color scheme, which is black and red and similar to the previous brush truck’s, as well as the various compartments. Medical supplies are stored in a side compartment, rather than a toolbox-style compartment, and incident command will have a compartment devoted to boards and vests for any large incident.
However, there are disadvantages to the truck.
“I’m being cautious. We weren’t so worried about getting the other truck off the road and getting it stuck,” Jackson said. “This truck, obviously, we’ll be more careful with, so it means we’ll have to utilize our Ranger more so we’re not damaging this.”
Jackson also said the length of the truck makes it less maneuverable, which may be a disadvantage for firefighters during medical calls.
“It’s not going to be perfect at anything. It’s not going to be the best-case scenario for medical. It’s not going to be the bestcase for grass fires,” Jackson said.
Currently, because of an influx of manpower, Jackson’s latest project is equipping the new firefighters in bunker gear and other equipment necessary for the various calls firefighters respond to.