Fire truck purchase on Tabernacle ballot

For Deputy Fire Chief John Welling, getting a new fire truck is a no-brainer.

“This proposal is to add a pumper, which will put us in compliance with the ISO (insurance services office, which rates fire departments’ capabilities, such as personnel, apparatus and other things) study which indicated we need three Class A pumpers for the fire-flow requirements in Tabernacle,” Welling said. “Currently we have two engines.”

According to Welling, this will also provide Tabernacle the ability to place an engine in the new emergency-services building on New Road.

“After which, almost all of our residents will be within the five mile requirement to a recognized fire station to receive homeowner’s insurance reductions of up to $300,” he said.

Welling also said getting the new, $659,000 pumper would not increase taxes. In addition to the pumper, various other equipment, including breathing-air bottles, a thermal-imaging camera, radios, hand tools, hoses and foam would also be purchased.

The first year payment in 2013 would be paid from funds in the future capital outlay account. The payments in 2014 and beyond would be paid from retired debt.

The public will be able to vote on the issue during the fire district election on Feb. 18. In addition to the pumper question, residents will also vote on commissioners and the department’s annual budget.

Welling said the need for another pumper in Tabernacle is greater than in other communities because there are no hydrants in Tabernacle.

“In Tabernacle, we must bring all of our firefighting water with us, which requires Tabernacle and other surrounding communities to have tanker trucks,” he said. “In 2008, we demonstrated our ability to flow over 2,400 gallons of water a minute without hydrants for two hours.

“This was significant, as it led to our ISO improvement from a Class 9 to a Class 4.”

Additionally, the use of Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS) triples the efficiency of water. Therefore, for every one gallon of water used with CAFS is like having three gallons of water without CAFS.

“Compressed Air Foam System has been an invaluable asset on the ladder truck and to the public we serve,” Welling said. “It improves firefighter safety, improves the efficiency of plain water to extinguish fires by five to seven times, it provides a faster means of fire knockdown, it offers a rapid reduction in heat, it requires less water and it provides lighter and more manageable hose lines.

“Most importantly, CAFS reduces damage and gets families back in their homes faster after a fire. Since Tabernacle has no fire hydrants, CAFS is a must to extend our on-board water supply and provide us with the most efficient firefighting tool available.”

The National Fire Protection Association standard recommends the replacement of first line pumpers after 15 years of service. Based on call volume, Tabernacle typically replaces pumpers after 20 years of service.

Last year, the Tabernacle Fire Department responded to 333 incidents. The top three causes of fires here were careless cooking, chimneys and carelessly discarded smoking materials.