Ladder truck dedicated

Published 4:15 pm Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Suffolk Department of Fire and Rescue’s new ladder truck wasn’t exactly pushed into the station, but the symbolic act helped dedicate the new Ladder 3 on Friday.

It was the first dedication ceremony the fire department has held in a long time, if not ever, for a new piece of equipment, officials said during the ceremony at the White Marsh Road station. But they felt the investment in the new truck was significant enough to merit a ceremony.

Chief Cedric Scott said dedication ceremonies of old, when the fire department ran on horsepower, featured firefighters pushing the new horse-drawn carriage backward into the station, as it was too difficult to get the horses to do so.

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The firefighters recreated the moment on Friday by appearing to push the new truck into the station, with a little help from the engine. Touches of Suffolk were already evident on the truck — a plush Mr. Peanut hung inside the cab.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson said the new truck is important, because it gives the firefighters what they need.

“It’s important we have the best equipment we can provide to enable them to do their jobs,” she said. “We need to make sure they have the best technology … but it’s only as good as the people that ride in it.”

The new 2016 model Pierce Velocity is 105 feet long and features a 500-gallon water tank and seating for five firefighters. It has all the same capabilities as a typical fire engine, plus the ladder.

The truck is also designed with safety in mind for the firefighters in transit. It has front airbags and side roll protection to keep them safe during a crash — the second leading cause of death for line-of-duty deaths in the fire service after heart attacks, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Five firefighters per shift will staff the ladder truck. There are three shifts.

The $1.1-million truck replaces the former Ladder 3, a 1999 model that has served 17 years on the front lines. Station 3 was the first ladder company with a full crew of firefighters in the city of Suffolk.

The 1999 truck now will become the reserve ladder truck, placed into service when one of the city’s three current ladders is out of commission. It replaces the current reserve model, which dates to 1985 and does not have a pump or water tank.

Scott thanked City Council members during the ceremony for their support in getting the truck funded.

The Kiwanis Club of Suffolk presented a flag during the ceremony that will fly on Ladder 3.