Nikiski firefighters and community members gathered Tuesday night to push a new Ladder Truck 1 into its home stall at Station 2.
The 40-ton fire truck arrived from its Wisconsin manufacturer earlier in the day as an upgrade replacement for the department’s previous Ladder 1, a 30-year-old rig. The pushing part is a long tradition stemming from the days of firefighting rigs built on carriages and carts.
Before the trucks traded positions, 100 gallons of water were ceremoniously pumped from the retiring rig into the storage tank of the new truck.
Nikiski Fire Chief James Baisden said he hopes that the new truck serves the community for 30 years, just like its predecessor. The cost, $975,000, was entirely covered by state funding provided by Senate Bill 16. There was no cost to the community, which will benefit greatly, Baisden said.
The replaced truck will be sold at auction.
The primary job of the new truck is to cover the four square miles of industrial operations, which includes a gasoline refinery and a liquid natural gas facility, among others. For that, the new truck can pump both water and foam from its nozzle attached to the 100-foot ladder’s end at the rate of 1,500 gallons per minute.
The broader advantage to the community is a day-to-day one, Baisden said. The new truck will continue to serve mutual aid at fires of all types, residential and commercial, throughout Central Peninsula communities. With 35 more feet of ladder than the previous truck, firefighters have more reach than before to combat flames. It’s quicker, safer and has more reach, Baisden said.
“A huge safety factor,” he said. “The goal was (protecting) critical infrastructure out here.”
Along with safer and larger firefighting capacity, the new truck includes all the vehicle upgrades of the last three decades, such as airbags and seatbelt improvements, Baisden said.
Though home in its new garage bay, the truck will not go into service for a few more weeks. Firefighters must first go through a weeklong training program provided by Pierce Manufacturing, the company that built the truck, Baisden said.
Reach Greg Skinner at firstname.lastname@example.org.