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Date of Issue: March 23, 2006

New 100-foot ladder truck coming to WMFR-Station No. 1

West Manatee Fire and Rescue District commissioners approved the purchase of a new 100-foot ladder truck to replace an existing firetruck at Station No. 1 in Holmes Beach.

A committee of representatives from each work shift spent five months researching trucks and gathering information for a recommendation on which vehicle to purchase.

WMFR Chief Andrew Price told the commission that members of the committee test drove a similar model vehicle as the one it hopes to purchase from tip to tip and across the Island.

"We wanted to get an idea of where we could maneuver the truck and where it might not fit, but had no trouble," Price said. "The truck was able to make a two-point turn on Key Royale and driving through Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach was not a problem."

Price said the new truck will enable firefighters to provide better safety and rescue operations. With the amount of new construction on the Island reaching heights of 37 feet, firefighters have a hard time reaching the top of structures with the present ladder truck. Truck 123, the one to be replaced, only reaches the fifth floor of the Martinique condos, the Island’s tallest structures, he said.

Price also told the commission the new truck will be accommodate four adults in the rescue bucket, an improvement that will enhance the district’s rescue capabilities.

Price said the replacement cost of the vehicle was not taken lightly and commended the committee for taking a "hard look" at the needs of the station and determining whether the purchase was necessary at this time. The total price of the vehicle is $870,000.

After the commission unanimously approved the purchase, Chairman Jesse Davis said, "Andy, go get your truck!"

In other business, Price announced that each shift is undertaking a "community risk reduction" project to help reduce risk to members of the local community.

He said A Shift chose a project based on experience gained from a recent boat fire. Shift members would like to have street addresses visible on seawalls in order for rescue teams on a boat to quickly find a location. They are developing a plan of action.

B Shift chose to expand a previous project and will visit all Manatee County elementary schools to promote bike helmet safety.

C Shift is working on a boater-safety program to carry out at area boat ramps.

Price said the objective is for WMFR to be more proactive. He said people view the fire district as response-oriented, but risk reduction is just as important and believes the community will see more of these initiatives in the future.

Price also announced to the commission that the district is accepting applications for a training officer. Currently 19 applications have been received and administration is working out a time schedule for short-listing and interviewing applicants. Price said a new component to the process is for applicants to prepare a training demonstration to ensure the applicant is capable of handling the position.

Price also announced two staff promotions. Thomas Owens has been promoted from firefighter to lieutenant and Carlo Valente completed his probation period and is now a firefighter.

The next WMFR commission meeting will be held at 6 p.m. April 20 at Station No. 1 in Holmes Beach.