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New truck to help LVFD with increased runs


March 30, 2011
Members of the Leavenworth Volunteer Fire Department drove back home recently after taking possession of their brand-new pumper/tanker truck.

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Leavenworth Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Jeff Lahue explains the controls of the department’s new pumper/tanker truck at the fire department last week. The $151,040 vehicle was purchased with a matching Community Development Block Grant. Photo by Lee Cable
The $151,040 truck was bought with a 5-percent matching Community Development Block Grant from the state and administered by Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission. The truck will bring the department's vehicle inventory to 10 trucks, one ATV and a special operations trailer. Some of the trucks in the inventory include brush trucks — used to fight fires in hard-to-reach areas — and others that are showing their age and mileage. The new truck will compliment those by adding new innovations and computer technology to the department's firefighting abilities.

"Our first fire truck was an old, converted gas truck," said Jeff Lahue, assistant chief. "Actually, most of our trucks through the years have been homemade for the most part. But a lot of the area we cover is so rural that we don't have a dependable water supply, so we have to take our water with us. Mulzer Quarry has helped us before by bringing their truck with a large water tank and letting us use their water. They are really good about helping us when we need it.

"But this truck will carry over 2,000 gallons of water and have the ability to pump it as well," he said. "And the new truck will allow us to drive and pump at the same time. This will be an advantage to us when we're fighting field fires where we can drive along the edge of a burning field and keep pumping water on it. Our older trucks are set up to either drive or pump but can't do both at the same time. We have to come to a complete stop before we can pump."

The Leavenworth VFD covers a large, mostly rural area of about 87 square miles. Its district includes the Curby area, Riddle, Wyandotte, Alton, Fredonia, Leavenworth and as far west as Sulphur.

As areas become more populated, local fire departments are seeing an increase in the number of runs they make. In past years, the Leavenworth VFD averaged about 180 runs per year. Those runs, many of them medical in nature, have increased significantly. Last year, the department made 262 runs, which puts strains on a department when many of its volunteer firefighters have to make a living and work out of town. So, those who work close to home or are self-employed and have the ability to respond quickly often bear the brunt of those runs.

The new truck features many advanced options, including computer-monitored water-tank levels and other safety devices.

"Community support helped us get this new truck," Lahue said. "We could never have pulled it off without that."

The Leavenworth VFD has 24 firefighters. About 11 of those are now in training, upgrading their firefighting knowledge and techniques. Sixteen of the firefighters at the department are medically trained.

George Pellman is the fire chief at Leavenworth, and Lahue and Kyle Wiseman serve as assistant chiefs.

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