PHOTO: The Monticello Fire Department purchased a new water tanker and pickup truck this year. The tanker holds 2,000 gallons of water, more than any other truck. The pickup is used to transport firefighters to trainings and for highway traffic control. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
The Monticello Fire Department has acquired new equipment in order to better serve the City of Monticello and surrounding communities.
This spring, the department purchased a new tanker truck with funds set aside in their budget. The $185,000 truck replaces an older one that the fire department had since 1988.
“It was time to replace it,” said Fire Chief Mark Stoneking.
Monticello firefighter Billy Norton explained the new tanker has a much bigger capacity than the older one; it’s able to hold up to 2,000 gallons of water. It also contains a small portable pump.
The department also purchased a new $38,000 pickup truck from Freese Motors. They sought bids from local dealerships for the purchase. Thanks to community fundraisers and public support, the fire department was able to make the purchase.
A department truck like this was something the MFD never had before. Stoneking said it’s used to transport firefighters to trainings and schooling events across the state. Norton added they’ll also use it for traffic control if needed on highways during an accident.
Before the pickup truck could be put to use, it had to be fitted for emergency use with new lights, sirens and painted and lettered for the MFD.
“We replace all of our trucks as needed,” explained Stoneking. “After 25 years, it’s time.”
Both Stoneking and Norton said fire trucks are changing as technology changes, like everything else. There are cameras inside the cab so the driver can see any obstructions when backing up at the scene of a fire or emergency. There is also a collapsible water tank, which is run by a hydraulic system that makes it easier to reach and use for extra water purposes.
“These technology changes are all done because of safety concerns,” added Stoneking.
Just like any aircraft, the new tanker truck is also equipped with a black box. This electronic system records the trucks performance. In the case of an accident, the information can be viewed as to what exactly happened.
The new tanker is also painted according to MFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards. These regulations also dictate how fast a fire truck can travel, especially on rural roads. Stoneking said the tanker could only travel up to 60 mph. “This limit does not hinder our response time,” Stoneking clarified. “It does not make a big difference.”
When in use, the tanker is geared for rural/county fires. The department covers about a 140-square mile radius around Monticello. Stoneking said because of its water capacity, it’s not really needed in town because of the use of fire hydrants.
As the one-year anniversary of the downtown Monticello fire approaches, Stoneking said that incident has been their only major fire in a long time.
“Our numbers are the lowest in my recent memory,” he said. “We’re on pace for some of the lowest call numbers.” While this is a good thing for residents, the firefighters still need to keep up on their training on a regular basis.
The MFD cannot purchase new vehicles without community fundraising. The MFD’s benefit dance will take place this Saturday, Nov. 9, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Monticello Eagles Club. Advanced tickets are $5 and will be sold at the door for $6.