The Lowell Area Fire Department (LAFD) welcomed a new vehicle to their fleet last week. Tender 6 was delivered last Friday with some training taking place alongside the manufacturer on site in Lowell on Saturday. The new vehicle was a scheduled purchase which replaced a 2002 engine and will be put into full service by April 1.
Engines, Tenders, and Brushes, Oh My!
The term “fire engine” is often used to describe the vehicles called to the scene of a fire. But there are different types of vehicles used for different purposes. Engines are typically used to carry personnel and equipment to the scene of a fire. They’re also able to hold water, but typically a lesser amount compared to that of a tender. Tenders, also known as tankers can collect water from streams, lakes, or hydrants and are used to transport water to areas where a hydrant is not available. Brush trucks are typically used with vegetation fires. They’re able to spray water while moving, unlike most of the bigger trucks which need to remain stationary when in use.
The Lowell Area Fire Department has a fleet which includes the following vehicles, including model year: Tender 6 2019, Brush 7 2017, Engine 5 2014, Medic 9 2011, Engine 3 2006, Brush 8 1998, Rescue 10 1996. The number of vehicles deployed after a call comes in depends on the severity of the event and its location.
Welcome Tender 6
The new tender’s primary use, as its name suggests, will be used carry water to locations where it is not readily available. Tender 6 has a 3,000 gallon capacity which compares to the 750 and 1,200 gallons the fleet’s two engines can carry. The new vehicle can also drop and leave behind what looks like a big swimming pool filled with all 3,000 gallons water if needed.
Chief Ron van Overbeek and Deputy Chief Shannon Witherell traveled to South Dakota to meet with Rosenbauer, the manufacturer, of Tender 6 over a year ago. The department came up with specifications and the new vehicle was built specifically for Lowell’s needs. In February, two lieutenants traveled west for one final look of the vehicle prior to delivery.
Training will take place with the new tender before it’s officially put to use. “The addition of this truck allows us to have a large volume of water for fires in area were we do not have a supplied water system.” says Witherell of the addition. “We will also be using this truck for car crashes as a blocker to provide protection for our staff while working in the roadway.” Much of the trucks components are also automated, using cameras to ensure the job is being done correctly.
The price tag for Tender 6 came in around $360,000. An older engine in the fleet was sold to a department in Canada for $55,000, a $75,000 grant was received from the Lowell Area Community Fund, and the remaining balance came from the Fire Authority’s fund balance savings.
In February the department responded to 112 incidents spread almost evenly between the three municipalities the LAFD covers. At least half of the calls were attributed to the weather which took place during the month. These calls resulted in a total of just under 240 man-hours.
With build time taking at least a year, needs and desires for a new engine will come up in discussion sooner rather than later for another new vehicle. The 2006 engine in the fleet is next on the schedule for replacement, slated for 2022. The purchase will be a joint endeavor between the Fire Authority and the County Fire Commission.