- August 4, 2017
The Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department’s high-water rescue truck is officially in use and dressed for the job.
Last week, the town’s 1998 Stewart & Stevenson M1078 cargo truck received its stickers, logos and a fresh coat of red and black paint to cover its previous camouflage look.
Fire Chief Paul Dezzi said getting the free truck was years in the making.
“Having that brought in, we have a vehicle that we use in a high-water (event) going to the last hurricane (or) storm that came through,” Dezzi said. “It cost an astronomical amount of service repairs to those vehicles.”
After Hurricane Eta in 2020, Dezzi said it cost the town more than $15,000 to repair the electrical system of one of the town’s engines.
Dezzi said one of the town's fire trucks responded in high water to a report of a fire during Eta's flooding. And while there was no apparent immediate damage, "we learned months later that saltwater damage even though we cleaned the truck, we found out that it got inside the electrical system, which causes deterioration.”
The town has yet to use the truck known as “Utility 9” for a rescue .
The town’s high-water vehicle comes to service via the Florida Forest Service, which is a division of Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. While it’s still state property, the truck is Longboat Key’s to paint in town colors, affix town insignias and essentially keep for as long as the town wants.
“One of the things the Division of Forestry wants is where it says, ‘Donated by the Division of Forestry,’” Dezzi said. “We had to have that on the truck.”