ADAMS TWP — The Adams Area Fire District has a new girl in town.
With a Spartan chassis and a 4 Guys rescue box, she's built like a brick and looks great in red. On any given day, she can hold up to seven fully dressed firefighters.
Her price tag is $910,000. But really, she's priceless.
On Nov. 24, Adams Area firefighters welcomed her into their fleet with a firehouse ceremony.
“We're calling it an all-hazards rescue vehicle,” said Tim Llewellyn, district fire chief.
The fire rescue truck is the first the district has been able to purchase new.
Adams Area is a volunteer company, so buying the truck took some planning. The company went through three used trucks of similar caliber in eight years before choosing a new one.
“(Each) was almost just what we wanted,” Llewellyn said.
The department was able to trade in every truck for one that was slightly better. Adams Area's Vehicle Acquisition Plan was in place to assist with its trade-ups.
“That puts us in line strategically ... to save up,” Llewellyn said.
The company considered reusing an old rescue box on a new chassis. But to piece a rescue vehicle together cost as much as buying a whole new rescue truck.
The district paid about $800,000 for the new truck. The equipment that came with it was an extra $110,000. The district bought the truck through a seven-year loan it plans to pay off in five years.
“It was always in the plan to have it around this time,” said Jason Safreed, executive board president.
The heavy rescue truck will be used mostly for vehicle crashes and special rescues and as part of Butler County's Rapid Intervention Team.
It carries equipment for trench, confined-space and water rescues, as well as standard structure fires.
The Adams Area Fire District aims to supplement county rescue resources, according to Llewellyn. With the urban development of local land, having equipment for every emergency is necessary.
Water rescue is a perfect example of that, according to Llewellyn.
“It seems these days, every time it rains, roads flood,” Llewellyn said. “This truck is designed to be this intermediary.”
Two parts of the ceremony paid homage to firefighters of old.
First, Adams firefighters washed the truck's tires like they were the wheels of a fire wagon. Firefighters did this, Llewellyn explained, when they returned from a blaze because the wheels would get dirty with debris and horse manure.
Second, Adams firefighters physically pushed the truck into the firehouse.
After returning from a fire, old fire wagons needed to be backed into storage to be ready for the next emergency. Llewellyn said this job fell to firefighters because horses don't back up easily.
District chaplain Gary Goerk gave a blessing before firefighters proceeded with the ceremony.
Goerk is new to the company and is the first chaplain the district has had. Llewellyn explained having someone to bless new trucks is an important part of adding new apparatus to operations.
“To give us good fortune and safety,” Llewellyn said.
In his blessing, Goerk asked for just that.
“It's important to bless this truck because of the work it does,” Goerk said.
The Adams Area Fire District now has three engines, one tower truck, one rescue truck and three squad vehicles. Active membership ranges from 35 to 45 people.
Safreed said while the new truck cost quite a bit of money, the district runs on public support. Funding — and volunteers — continue to be needed.
“We always can use donations,” Safreed said.
The new rescue truck has been christened “Step Up.”
The name, etched into its windshield, refers to the extra step that was added onto the back of the truck. The vehicle is so tall, most firefighters need an extra foothold to climb in.
But the name is more than descriptive.
“That 'Step Up' is also symbolic of what we as members need to do,” Llewellyn said in his christening speech. “We are not able to do any of this by ourselves. ”