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Longboat Key Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020 11 months ago

Longboat's new ladder truck is a step up

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Newest piece of life-saving equipment works its way into service.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

The town’s new ladder truck might look like a specialized piece of firefighting equipment, but it can actually do almost everything a smaller truck can do. 

Longboat Key Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Chris Krajic served as the department’s lead in purchasing the $850,000 truck.

“The truck is designed to respond to any types of calls that we will encounter here on Longboat Key,” Krajic said. “This truck will be completely equipped for advanced life support. It will respond to structure fires, vehicle fires, elevator rescues, you name it. This truck is designed to meet the needs of whatever kind of call it’s going to be dispatched to.”

The town is planning to have a public dedication ceremony for the new truck Jan. 4 at the north-end fire station, 5490 Gulf of Mexico Drive. Eventually, the new truck will be at the town’s newly rebuilt south-end fire station at 2162 Gulf of Mexico Drive. Construction is ongoing at the south-end fire station.

The new truck replaces the town’s 2003 model.

“The life span on fire trucks is anywhere between 10 and 15 years depending on how they’re used and the millage and the hours and things like that on them,” Krajic said. “Obviously, with that one, it was exceeding the 15-year mark, and it was time to replace it.”

Lt. Kerri Brooks shows off the new truck's many equipment storage bins.

Longboat Key will have a firetruck at each fire station and three total ambulances. The new truck features a mid-mount, 75-foot ladder. The design allows the new truck to be more maneuverable.

“I guess the coolest thing in this truck is this is truly a custom-built truck for Longboat Key, where the others we had weren’t,” Krajic said. “They were like a cookie-cutter type of vehicle. This one, we actually built this one from the ground up.”

Krajic said the town considered purchasing trucks with a ladder that could reach up to 100 feet in the air. However, Krajic said the town didn’t feel it would be a good fit because of the need to stay within budget.

The truck carries the Jaws of Life.

Dublin, Ohio-based Sutphen Corp. manufactured the truck. The company has built fire apparatus for 130 years. The town’s SL 75 aerial ladder truck was built in Hilliard, Ohio, in one of the company’s six factories. It was finished in mid-October.

The town budgeted $850,000 for a new truck in fiscal year 2020.

“We have to obviously stay within those budgetary guidelines. So we look at some of the manufacturers that make firetrucks, and one of things that we were real concerned with is availability of the manufacturers for the trucks themselves and for service after the sale because if they tell you, ‘My truck never breaks,’ they’re lying to you because everything breaks,” Krajic said.

Before the truck is put into full-time service in January, each first responder must undergo an Emergency Vehicle Operations Course, working with the new ladder and gear to get used to the new levers. Krajic estimated it would take each person between 10-12 hours to complete the training.

Harmer said the town was planning to put together a short video to highlight the new truck’s features.

Krajic is retiring Jan. 13, nine days after the new fire truck gets put into use.

“We kind of planned it that way,” Krajic said. “It was part of the thing when we put this all together was that, ‘Listen, I’m going to be retiring at the end of the year, and I would like to see this truck that we’ve put a lot of time and effort into before I leave.’”

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