POWHATAN – What did you get for your 50th anniversary? The Huguenot Volunteer Fire Department got a new heavy rescue vehicle!
Last week, the department took delivery of a 2009 Pierce Lance from LCFR Rescue Company 20, Town of Leesburg in March 2020. As soon as it backed into the station, the station’s rescue committee got to work to personalize the vehicle. Hundreds of hours were spent re-configuring compartments, updating the hydraulic rescue tools, purchasing new technical rescue equipment to give firefighters additional capabilities, developing training programs, and much more.
“This vehicle is essentially a ‘tool box on wheels,’” firefighter Taylor Goodman said. “It carries highly specialized equipment to help rescue people that are trapped in, on, under, or over things; can shore up collapsed buildings; carries extra air bottles for firefighters going into the smoke and flames, and much more. Its primary role is to extricate victims from complicated auto accidents.”
The hundreds of hours volunteers (with their mechanical backgrounds) put into the project saved the county tens of thousands of dollars and gives members an "investment" into the rig. The training included most of Huguenot’s career staff as well as about 40 members from Company 2, Goodman said.
“Since this vehicle would rarely, if ever, be staffed by the other fire companies, we focused on our members. We had over 50 personnel attend the introductory training sessions,” he said.
As far as outfitting and training on the rig, COVID-19 did not slow down the process too much, Goodman said. The station organized smaller groups for the training and while prepping the vehicles. Delays in getting equipment were minimal.
This new vehicle allows firefighters to carry far more equipment, including new items to allow them to better stabilize tractor trailers and large trucks involved in a crash, he said. With longer hoses on the extrication tools (“Jaws of Life”), firefighters can get people out of wrecked cars that are down an embankment. The new truck also has a self-contained fire suppression system, allowing firefighters to extinguish a fire at the scene of a crash.
Rescue 702 entered service at 7:15 p.m. on July 27 - exactly six years to the day after the new Engine 702 was place into service.
After taking a photo with the new heavy rescue on July 27, the members pushed it back into the station. The Push-In ritual dates back to the 1800s, when horse drawn pumpers were used throughout the nation’s fire service, said Daniel DeHart, firefighter. Horses commissioned for service would be washed along with the pumper at their newly assigned firehouse and backed into the firehouse bay. The firefighters would then fit the new horse with its harness placing the company in service. After every run, firefighters had to hand push their pumpers back into the bay and ready themselves for the next alarm.
Purchasing the used heavy rescue truck for $183,000 was approved by the Powhatan County Board of Supervisors in September 2019. A new vehicle can cost up to $815,000, so fire and rescue was thrilled to find a 2009 model with impeccable service records that would meet the county’s needs with some additional upgrades, Goodman told the board at the time.
The purchase of the used vehicle allowed Company 2 to get a very well-maintained vehicle for about 30 percent of the cost of a comparably sized and equipped new one, Goodman said last week. The price of the vehicle was low enough to allow the use of excess monies to purchase more modern equipment, as well as equipment that they had never been able to carry before.
“The amount of work done-in house on this vehicle was staggering. We were able to save approximately $25,000 on labor by using our in-house talent to mount equipment, reupholster the seats, install new chargers and flashlights, and so much more. Not only did we want to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money, we have ‘our’ time and effort in the vehicle, and the pride that comes along with it,” Goodman said.