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Members of the Ridgway Fire Department parked their fleet along the intersection of Court and Main Streets Friday evening as they displayed their equipment, including their newest edition, E-RP 412, a dual-purpose rescue/engine truck.
"Two years ago, a group of gentlemen from the fire department sat down and we tried to think of a way to consolidate equipment without upsetting people," said Ridgway fire chief John Wygant. "What we came up with was the idea of combining a rescue truck and an engine. We talked about it, we kicked it around, and as a matter of fact we even put it on the back shelf for a while just to see if there was really any interest in it."
The initial plans weren't on the back-burner for very long.
"We re-established a committee of about 10 to 12 people in the fire department and we talked about what we wanted the truck to do-- did we want it to be be all rescue, all fire, what do we want out of this truck?" Wygant said. "We came up with an agreement that if we combined a rescue truck and an engine, we could man this truck with six people compared to needing 10 or 12.
"It started out as a win-win situation when we looked at it so that's kind of how we got the ball going."
The new truck replaces Rescue 412 and Engine 42.
"We had a lot of [mechanical and financial] issues with Engine 42-- I was basically told that we weren't going to put any more money into the truck," Wygant said. "We eliminated two pieces of equipment and this truck is not going down to Second Ward at this time-- I don't ever see this truck going to Second Ward-- it's going to stay at Central and basically be pulled as a rescue truck.
"It will not be pulled as a frontline pumper-- the reasoning behind that is if we commit it to a fire and then we have an automobile accident, all of our rescue equipment is on there. I'd rather have this off to the side and use it where it's needed. If we have a vehicle accident that's on fire, we can take one piece of equipment-- we don't have to roll two or three pieces. This will do the job."
The department was able to sell their old rescue truck to a chemical plant in southern Pennsylvania.
"They were very gracious and wanted to make a HazMat truck out of it, and that fit their bill to a T," Wygant said. "I have a gentleman out of Michigan who is interested in the engine, he's offered us more than what I thought we could get out of it so I wrote him back and told him that we'd take his offer.
"We're talking back and forth now to get it finished."
Rescue 412 was originally purchased in 1983 by the Firemen's Relief Association.
"When we sold [Rescue 412], that money went back to the Firemen's Relief Association," Wygant said. "They were gracious enough to buy into this vehicle, percentage-wise, 9 percent of the vehicle which was around $40,000.
"The rest of the money came from the fire department from fundraising, and we also got a 2-percent loan from the Pennsylvania State Fire Commission. We are expected to replace that money over a 15-year period."
As Wygant, state Representative Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk), and fellow firefighters mingled with community members admiring the equipment, Wygant said he's heard nothing but positive remarks.
"It's a beautiful truck, we've had a lot of really nice comments on it and it wouldn't hurt my feelings at all if we had to leave it in the station forever but if we need to use it, the truck is there to be used," Wygant said.
Pick up a copy of the Saturday, April 21, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.