Andover could be getting a new ladder truck at the end of this year or next year.
The Andover City Council March 19 authorized Fire Chief Dan Winkel to complete the specifications for a new ladder truck and look for the best deal.
The Andover Fire Department currently owns a 1991 ladder truck that is still usable, but Winkel said it is time to look at a newer model that has additional safety features.
According to Winkel, the 1991 ladder truck has a 75-foot ladder with nozzles and lights at the end so a firefighter could climb it during a rescue operation, for instance. The ladders can also help the firefighters get a higher angle and longer reach to fight the fire.
The new ladder truck will have a ladder at least 100 feet long, although Winkel said some models have a 105-foot ladder. At the end of the ladder will be a bucket that can hold two to three firefighters.
Many neighboring fire departments with newer trucks have the buckets on their ladder trucks, which enable firefighters to climb into the bucket before the ladder is mechanically lifted in the air.
This eliminates the need for the firefighter and the people they are rescuing to climb the ladder, but the material it is made out of can offer some protection to the firefighter in case the fire starts getting out of control. The bucket will also include an air hook-up, so the firefighters can stay up there for longer periods of time than the air tanks they carry would allow. There are still the connection points for the water hoses and there are lights.
Andover’s 2013-2017 Capital Improvement Plan estimates the new truck could cost $1.2 million. To reduce the impact on a single budget year and tax levy, the city had already planned to split the cost between 2013 and 2014, City Administrator Jim Dickinson previously stated.
The 22-year-old ladder truck could be sold or the department may keep it.
Winkel thinks Andover is large enough to have two ladder trucks, but he will ask the council about this at a later date.
According to Winkel, he is confident he could sell it because used fire trucks are in demand by smaller departments who cannot afford a brand new model. Two or three fire departments that already heard Andover’s 1991 truck may be on the market have asked Winkel to keep them up to date on whether it is up for sale.
Winkel said ladder trucks are essential for Andover because it has a lot more commercial and industrial development than it used to. The city already has one tall residential building with The Farmstead and a three-story, 70-unit senior living facility is under construction.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]