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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Fire Truck with a History

The LeSueur Fire Department had a problem. Their 1979 ladder truck was out of date and was costing them a good deal of money every time it went through its yearly inspection, as parts were failing and those parts had to be replaced to keep the truck in service. And like many departments, there was no money in the budget to replace it, as a new ladder truck can easily cost over $1 million.

Fire Chief Tom Obele turned to the department’s “truck guys” who worked together scouring the internet for a suitable used truck that would fit in to their fire station. They found four trucks that looked like they might work and continued doing their research until they had it down to one. They settled on a 1993 Simon Duplex with a 100-foot LTI platform. The truck was in Somerset, Pennsylvania and the price was $75,000.

Now it gets interesting.

Chief Obele was beginning a campaign to raise money from the city’s businesses to buy the truck. He was going to focus on the businesses that would potentially benefit from the city having a truck that could handle fire and rescue responses to their buildings. LeSueur, Inc. is a multi-generational family foundry business in the city of LeSueur, and they agreed to donate the money to pay for the truck and cover the expenses for a group of firefighters to pick it up and drive it back.

As they prepared for the trip, they learned that their “new” fire truck had been at the scene of September 11 United Airlines Flight 93 plane crash in nearby Shanksville Pennsylvania. The truck and the crew from Somerset had been assigned to “decon”—the decontamination of people and equipment at the site. It’s one of those important jobs that somebody has to do and is usually done in a restricted area.

When they arrived to pick up the truck, they said “it was loaded.” Fire departments usually remove the portable equipment off a truck when it is sold, and that was what the LeSueur firefighters had expected. However, Somerset had the truck turnkey ready and they included extra ladders, nozzles, hoses, pike poles, and hand tools.

It is interesting how it came together. The internet search, the generous gift from LeSueur Inc., the truck full of equipment, and the truck’s role at one of our nation’s historic and tragic events.

Up next: The TSO Class in Kentucky

Stay safe,