Pa. department receives $1.4M ladder truck
Wilkes-Barre Fire Department leaders dedicated the new Pierce Enforcer 107-foot ascendant tractor-drawn aerial ladder truck
By Steve Mocarsky
The Citizens' Voice
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- City officials showed off the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department's newest piece of life-saving apparatus Tuesday and recognized those who helped make it possible.
City officials gathered outside Hollenback Fire Station for a ceremony to dedicate a $1.4 million 2020 Pierce Enforcer 107-foot ascendant tractor-drawn aerial ladder firetruck.
"The main thing with this ladder truck over anything else I will discuss today is maneuverability," [Fire Chief Jay] Delaney said, referring to its ability to navigate some of Wilkes-Barre's narrow streets, with one operator in the tractor cab and a tiller operator in a cab steering the rear wheels from the back of the apparatus.
"The ladder on this is 107 feet high and I believe is probably the highest ladder in Luzerne County," Delaney said, noting it extends almost one full story past the current truck's 100-foot reach.
Firefighters can view a video camera at the top of the ladder from an operator's station at the base of the ladder and remotely adjust the position of the hose nozzle at the top of the ladder to direct the water spray without a firefighter having to be at the top of the ladder in heavy smoke and heat.
Delaney said efforts to acquire the new truck began about five years ago when the department's nearly 20-year-old aerial ladder truck began breaking down frequently.
"Our first challenge was, where do you come up with over a million dollars in a city that struggles every day financially," Delaney said.
Requests for financial help city officials made to nonprofits were unsuccessful, so Delaney said he turned to the former and current directors of the city's Office of Economic and Community Development, Kurt Sauer and Joyce Morrash Zaykowski, respectively. Available state and federal OCD funds totaled about $1 million, so the administration sought assistance from state Sen. John Yudichak, I-14, Swoyersville.
Yudichak worked with state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-121, Wilkes-Barre, and helped secure a $420,000 Local Share Account grant.
Delaney then formed a Tractor Drawn-Aerial Ladder Committee of firefighters in January 2019 to help design the apparatus that would meet all of the department's needs. In a little less than a year, the committee produced 181 pages of design specifications for the manufacturer. The vehicle was ordered in September 2019.
Two Seattle firefighters provided 40 hours of training on the apparatus to six city firefighters this past Thursday through Sunday, and those six firefighters will train the rest of the department over the next several weeks.
Mayor George Brown said he believes the city has "the best firefighters and EMS operators in the state, and now we have the best equipment in the state. ... The residents in the high rises should feel much safer with this piece of equipment here."
As more people move into high rises in the city, it’s essential that the fire department has the proper fire trucks and emergency equipment to make our residents and our heroic first responders feel more secure. @Wilkes_Barre_PA pic.twitter.com/ngRyg4Lt5p— Sen. John Yudichak (@SenJohnYudichak) October 20, 2020
I was pleased to work with the city of Wilkes-Barre to help secure a $420,000 LSA grant for a new aerial ladder fire truck for the Wilkes-Barre City Fire Department. @Wilkes_Barre_PA 🚒 pic.twitter.com/fEKaGcfo8x— Sen. John Yudichak (@SenJohnYudichak) October 20, 2020
(c)2020 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)