Prince Albert introduces new fire truck

Prince Albert fire chief Kris Olsen introduces the city's new fire truck on Feb. 14, 2020. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Prince Albert’s newest fire truck will let the fire department work faster and more efficiently while also improving safety.

The Prince Albert Fire Department (PAFD) presented the new truck during a press conference Friday morning. It was purchased two years ago, cost the city about $1 million and went into service this week.

The new truck, named engine 11, is what’s classified as a “quint.” That means it does five different jobs: fire pump, water tank, hose bed, ground ladder and aerial ladder.

The truck was built to custom specifications for Prince Albert to accommodate it at its existing fire hall.

“Typically a ladder doesn’t’ meet the needs of the first-arriving unit,” Fire Chief Kris Olsen said.

“Some of the gaps in our first-arriving unit was not having the ability to perform an aerial rescue, not having an elevated water stream and not having elevated lights. When we’re on a fire scene, having a lit scene is paramount. That’s what this affords us that we never had before.”

Olsen explained that ladder trucks typically are the second truck to go out, while an engine is the first to arrive.

“It’s going to serve an engine purpose with the addition of a ladder if needed,” Olsen said.

“At fire scenes, sometimes it gets congested. There are some obstacles and logistical issues when you bring in a second (truck) and need a ladder. The first engine having a ladder is paramount.”

Unlike the other ladder truck which is longer and has a bucket at the front, the new truck ahs a remotely-controlled nozzle at the end of is latter so it can be used for easier aerial attacks.

It’s also about five feet shorter from the back and doesn’t extend out in front of the vehicle like a ladder truck would.

“It’s compact, and allows it to fit in (this) very (garage) bay.”

City Councillor Don Cody goes for a ride in the new fire truck. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Olsen said its smaller size will allow it to fit at the station with another piece of equipment parked behind it.

He also explained the process the truck went through as it was built. The process involved bringing in mechanics, purchasing managers and firefighters to build a truck to the specifications Prince Albert needed — everything from horsepower requirements to pump size.

The cabin and chassis were built in Minnesota, while the aerial equipment was produced in Nebraska. The cabin, chassis and aerial equipment were finished by mid-2018. Then, the truck was sent to a small hamlet in South Dakota where the body, paint, aesthetics, radio and more were added.

Olsen said he and others travelled to South Dakota “numerous times” to view the truck during its prebuild to make sure it met those specifications. He said it will have between 20 and 25 years of service life.

After getting a look at — and a ride in — the completed truck, Mayor Greg Dionne was impressed.

Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne steps down from the new fire truck on Feb. 14, 2020. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

“One thing we don’t hesitate on council is investing in safety. This is 25 years of safety,” he said.

“This truck will be able to get into spots with an aerial and put the lights on and dump water, and that’s what we needed, it’s filling a gap. The other truck is so long it’s hard to get into places where this truck will get us into where we have to.”

Dionne said that it’s not an easy project to build, which is why it takes so long and costs so much. He said that’s why council has also approved the next purchase, a new pumper truck that will arrive in two years.

Olsen said the fire department was “excited” to see the new piece of equipment ready to go.

“It’s not very often you roll in a new truck,” he said.

Dionne agreed.

“At the end of the day,” he said, “this truck will certainly serve what the citizens of P.A. need.”