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Manhattan Fire Department’s new pumper reports for duty

By Burk Krohe

People filtered in and out of Fire House No. 5, the city’s newest station, Saturday, taking tours for its grand opening. One of the main attractions of the day was the city’s brand new pumper truck.

The roughly $500,000 24-ton truck, built by Pierce Manufacturing, arrived last Thursday and will operate out of the Manhattan Fire Department’s main station at Denison Avenue and Kimball Avenue. The new truck was part of an agreement approved last year by the Manhattan City Commission for two new fire stations in the city on Amherst Avenue and Vanesta Drive.

Fire Chief Jerry Snyder said the truck will replace the station’s current pumper truck, which will be put into use as a reserve truck. Much of the hefty price tag is related to a newer model engine and more advanced safety features, while the cab is a pretty standard design.

“The safety features are so much different between this truck (new truck) and this truck,” Snyder said.

Many of the safety features are designed to improve the ride to calls. Snyder said the new truck has a rollover protection system that will lock down the seats and tighten the seatbelts once the truck tips to a certain point. The seats also have special docks for firefighters’ air tanks that are built to withstand severe G-force. He added the overall ride is just smoother.

“You get a more comfortable ride, and you’re not bouncing up and down so much,” Snyder said. “Some of these older trucks—when I used to drive them—I mean you hit some of the bumps and you could not keep your foot on the gas.”

Other new features include more efficient compartment spaces for hoses and equipment. A camera on the back of the truck was also added to aid backing maneuvers. Most of the time, other firefighters on the truck will help guide the driver, but that’s not always the case.

“Sometimes we get in positions at a fire where the driver is by himself,” Snyder said.

The camera acts as another safety precaution. That kind of attention to detail takes time, though. The truck was built to MFD’s exact specifications over a period of nine months.

While it takes almost a year to build a new truck from the ground up, Snyder said typically a truck has about a 20-year lifespan. He noted the truck being replaced looks good on the outside but has different parts from trucks produced in the 1960s and 1970s.

Snyder said training on the new truck will begin Wednesday and go until Friday.

“It’s pretty awesome,” he said.

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