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The Los Alamos Fire Department recently acquired a new fire truck: a Smeal Heavy Duty Aerial with a ladder capable of extending out to 105 feet.
The fire department is currently undergoing a replacement program to retire its aging vehicles and trucks.
According to Deputy Chief Justin Grider, this is the only ladder truck of its type in the department, but it is a very essential piece of equipment. He said ladder companies are responsible for getting onto roofs and ventilating structures, search and rescue, securing utilities and other vital tasks.
“Those functions and responsibilities are very different from those that take fire hoses to the front door,” Grider said.
The Smeal can, however, carry 300 gallons of water as well as pump water from outside sources if need be. It will be mostly used in situations that involve Los Alamos’ taller buildings, such as its hotels and buildings within the Los Alamos National Laboratory complex.
“There are some very large structures and buildings on the lab site that we may need the truck to cover two sides of a building to keep the fire from spreading,” said Chief Troy Hughes,
The truck seats six, but, according to Grider it will probably have a crew of three.
The truck will be replacing the department’s E-One Bronto, which will most likely find service at another federal site, Grider said.
According to Grider and Hughes, the Smeal has more room to store equipment than the Bronto, which will really help out the ever-growing department.
“We’ve evolved in the last 20 years, so there’s more tools and more jobs,” Hughes said. “We will now have the adequate space to keep everything which will allow us to meet the new standards.
The Smeal is also equipped with LED (light emitting diode) lighting, which apparently is a big selling point for fire departments around the country. Hughes said it means there will be less wear and tear on the trucks electrical system as LEDS require less power to run, so less of a load on the system.
Some of the problems with the older trucks had to do with failure of the wiring systems because they drew a lot more of an electrical load.
The Department of Energy foots the bill for nearly all of the fire department’s vehicles, and it’s estimated this model carries a price tag between $900,000 and $1 million.
Though the department received the truck Monday, it will probably be a month or so before it goes into service, as the department still has to make some configurations to it as well as train their crews on it.
When it’s finally ready for official service, it will be stationed at Fire Station No. 1 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.