February 13, 2008 Edition

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Walnut Ridge Aldermen Michael "Button" Wallin (from left) and Johnnie Fears visit with WRFD Chief Alan Haskins and Mayor Michelle Rogers about the addition of a ladder truck to the WRFD's fleet of trucks.
TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt

New truck asset for WRFD

Gretchen Hunt
TD Editor

A 100-foot platform ladder truck may be an unlikely addition to a small-town fire department, but it is a welcome and appreciated one at the WRFD.

Walnut Ridge Fire Chief Alan Haskins said at a cost of $850,000 brand new ladder trucks are a luxury that most departments cannot afford. That's why when the department learned about a used truck that was expected to go reasonably it was decided to begin the bidding process.

In December, aldermen voted to authorize a $60,000 bidding cap on the truck, though Alderman Michael "Button" Wallin said he was sure the city could obtain the truck for less.

He was right. In the end, Walnut Ridge's bid of $10,500 was accepted, giving the department a fire-fighting tool most smaller fire departments do not have -- height.

Because there are several multi-story buildings and large commercial buildings in Walnut Ridge the truck offers some peace-of-mind, according to Mayor Michelle Rogers.

"If something was to ever happen at one of those buildings, this will certainly be an asset in responding to a fire of that nature," she said.

WRFD Chief Alan Haskins said the truck is the type of equipment one would expect to see in Little Rock or Jonesboro.

"We're really fortunate to get this," he said. "It is one of just a few in this part of the state." He said the addition of the truck brings the value of the WRFD's fleet to between two and three million dollars.

Wallin said the city and fire department are constantly working on lowering the ISO rating, which would benefit residents with their insurance costs.

"This will help," he said. The city currently has a fire rating of 5.

"This truck could help our rating," Rogers said. "We have been working on that. It has been a priority for Alan as chief."

The 1980 truck has only 19,000 miles on it. The ladder extends 100 feet and swivels 360 degrees.

Other features include controls in the bucket that allow the firefighters to control their own movement and tanks mounted to the truck that provide oxygen to the firefighters in the bucket without them having to wear the heavy apparatus normally required.

Captain Chris Jones and Firefighter Frank Owens traveled to Wichita, Kans., to pick up the truck. It rolled into the WRFD parking lot on Thursday.

Firefighters were testing different features and getting a feel for the new truck. Plans are in place to make a few modifications including painting the truck red to match the rest of the fleet and adding the WRFD's name and emblems.

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