New engine joins Wilton’s fire lineup

WILTON — Firefighters up at Station 2 on Ridgefield Road have a new ride.

Engine 2 was delivered to fire headquarters a few weeks ago and after working out a few bugs the spotless red truck is to be put into service this week.

Chief Geoff Herald described it as a “traditional 1,000-gallon tanker” that was being sent to the Marhoffer station where there are no hydrants, so a large supply of water is critical.

This tanker, which is actually a 2019 model, replaces a 13-year-old tanker that, along with being up in years, needed significant refurbishment was outdated in terms of technology and was less dependable.

Herald, a 40-year-veteran of the firefighting business, described the new truck as “classic looking” with a forward cab and a smooth ride.

The new tanker, which was actually a show model, cost the town $520,000 and comes with a two-year warranty. To purchase it brand new, Herald said, would have been in the vicinity of $650,000.

The cost to refurbish the old tanker would have been in the vicinity of $450,000. “It made no sense to put that kind of money into it,” he said. Instead, the town will sell the old tanker.

Herald credited First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice with being able to push the sale through on short notice. From start to finish, the process took four months. Buying a fire truck from scratch usually takes a year.

Herald approached the Board of Selectmen in December with the proposal to buy the show model. The purchase of fire trucks is usually bonded, but in this case, money was taken from the Charter Authority by the selectmen and Board of Finance to cover the cost.

The new truck is about 28 feet long and is outfitted with a multitude of hoses that can draw water from a source as far as 1,000 feet away. At full tilt, those hoses can deliver water at a rate that would empty the tank in four minutes. Lights on the back of the truck indicate when the tank is full, half-full, one-quarter full and nearly empty.

Fortunately, Wilton has mutual aid agreements with Ridgefield, Weston, Norwalk, New Canaan, Georgetown and Vista, N.Y., who are called out in the case of a large fire.

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The truck was manufactured by Pierce, a brand familiar to the Wilton Fire Department.

“It’s a good, solid fire truck,” Herald said. “What’s important is how you use it.”

In the past, a tanker might have been used just for its water capacity to put out fires, but today’s fire department is much more diversified and every truck in the fleet is considered an “all hazard” vehicle.

Beyond fighting fires, the department’s members perform trench rescues and rope rescues, they form a dive rescue team with the police department, and they rescue people from car accidents. Last year firefighters underwent training to deal with predicaments ranging from someone’s arm stuck in a snowblower and someone impaled on the spike of a metal fence to freeing someone trapped under a car.

Of late, Herald said the department has been busy making COVID-19 calls, something no one could have predicted just a few months ago.

From fighting fires, responding to EMS calls, hazmat spills and carbon monoxide alarms, rescuing a life at a moment’s notice, even to delivering babies and resucing dogs that get their heads stuck in tree stumps, the fire department’s answers calls of all sorts.

Simply put, Herald said, “Our mission is to make somebody’s bad day better.”