June 11, 2008 Edition

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WR firefighters train on new truck

This is the view from the platform at the top of the Walnut Ridge Fire Department´┐Żs ladder truck during a training session on Monday afternoon. From 100 feet up, firemen waiting below appear very small and the fire truck looks almost toy like.
TD Photo ~ Gloria Wilkerson
Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge Fire Department took their recently acquired ladder truck to the old Wal-Mart parking lot on Highway 67 for training on Monday.

Barry O'Neill is a truck setup instructor at the Pierce Dealership in Memphis, and he is a specialist in aerial apparatus. He was in Walnut Ridge to train firemen to use the truck and demonstrate its advantages.

"His job is to show us the safety features on the truck and how to operate it properly," said Walnut Ridge Fire Chief Alan Haskins. "We are also learning what not to do and places and situations where we should not take the truck."

The city bought the 1980 Pierce ladder truck a few months ago for $10,500. A new paint job and equipping it for use cost an additional $19,500.

Haskins said a new ladder truck like the one they bought would cost $850,000. Walnut Ridge, Jonesboro, Paragould and Batesville are the only fire departments in this area that have ladder trucks.

"We have several buildings on Main Street that are three stories high," Haskins explained, "and there are also buildings out in the Industrial Park which would greatly benefit from the purchase of this truck if they have a fire."

The ladder reaches 100 feet in the air and allows firemen on its platform to reach the fire or rescue someone from an elevated position, Haskins said.

"We are very fortunate to have a truck like this," said Haskins. "We have already used it once at the Hob Nob fire, so it has already paid for itself."

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