When the Jamestown Rural Fire Protection District applied for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant in February 2009, we knew it would be a long shot. The need for an updated and reliable tanker to provide water for fires in the district was a must. Not only do we provide water supply to our district, but we are also obligated to mutual aid agreements with surrounding departments. They supply water to us in the form of a tanker shuttle and in turn we supply water to them in their time of need. With the cost of purchasing a new vehicle of this type being such a large dollar amount, a grant application was our first choice of action in obtaining the funds needed.
FEMA received applications from over 19,000 applicants for the program. These applicants were asking for $3.1 billion in funds. Missouri alone had 549 applications requesting a total of $77 million in funds. Although the application process is grueling, the Jamestown Rural Fire Protection District is no stranger to the AFG. We have received AFG grants in 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2007. One of the more significant grants in the amount of $88,350 was awarded in October of 2006 and resulted in the purchase of a used fire truck. This truck was a 1991 Freightliner Five-man Cab Pumper with only 14,000 miles on it from a department in New York State and is now our front line pumper.
The AFG is a program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Grants are awarded to fire departments to enhance their ability to protect the public and fire service personnel from fire and related hazards. The primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations. Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.
On March 5, 2010, the Jamestown Rural Fire Protection District received notification that they would be receiving an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) through FEMA for a new vacuum tanker in the amount of $190,000. The total cost of the truck would be an estimated $200,000.
The vacuum type of tanker is a relatively new style of tanker in the firefighting apparatus industry. The truck contains a large vacuum pump that creates a vacuum in the tank. Then you place the large suction hose in a pond, creek, or other water source and open the valve. (In simple terms, it's similar to sticking the hose of a wet/dry shop-vac in a bucket of water.) Loading the truck takes only a couple of minutes vs. 15-20 minutes using a conventional pump. The need for another engine to be stationed at a tanker fill site to pump water into the tanker is also eliminated. Thus, the manpower formerly needed to operate that engine can now help directly at the fire scene.
There are only a handful of companies in the United States that build the vacuum style tankers as fire trucks. After making contact with a few of them, board members and firefighters made trips to fire departments in Linn, Centertown and Newburg, MO to look at trucks with specifications similar to what we were looking for. Once we narrowed down our required options, bid specs and a cover letter were mailed out to prospective companies. Bids were received from five different manufacturers and were opened on June 15, 2010. Once all bids had been thoroughly reviewed, Engle Fabrication from Sauk Centre, Minn. stood out as the obvious choice for our new tanker. Mike Engle of Engle Fabrication traveled to a special meeting with the JRFPD board on June 23, 2010 at Station 1 and a contract for the truck was signed.
The truck is a New 2011 Freightliner M2106 Chassis with a Cummins Turbo Diesel engine and an Allison Automatic Transmission. The truck is equipped with a Hale 500GPM fire pump and a Masport 400 CFM Liquid Cooled Vacuum System - all mounted on an Engle Fire All Stainless Steel Apparatus Body. The truck includes 60 ft. of 6" suction hose for filling the truck. Several feet of fire hose, fittings and nozzles are installed on the truck to use to fight a fire with this truck alone - should the need arise. Large scene lights, back-up camera, reflective striping and emergency lighting are just a few of the safety features installed on the truck.
As part of the AFG requirements, we are retiring a 1987 GMC tanker from service. This truck had a 1,800-gallon gravity dump tank with no pump. When filling this truck, another fire truck was needed at the fill site in order to pump water into the truck. The GMC tanker was previously a propane delivery truck and has over 256,000 miles on it. The AFG requires that this tanker NOT be used as a fire truck ever again. The Jamestown Rural Fire Protection District removed all lighting and fittings and has donated the truck to the Missouri River Valley Steam Engine Association in Boonville to use as a water truck to help control dust at the Brady Showgrounds.