New Aerial Fire Truck Dedicated At NFCCNov 2nd, 2011 | By Lynette | Category: Community News, Sports
By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
At the firing range building at the very back of the NFCC campus, a jovial Richard Machek, USDA Rural Development State Director, stood at the podium. In front of the podium was a giant poster-sized mock-up of the $387,000 Economic Impact Initiative Grant check, complete with Machek’s giant signature.
“Helping rural communities provide its citizens with critical services like fire protection is what Rural Development is all about,” he said.
He was speaking to those who had gathered for the dedication and demonstration Madison County’s newest addition to its arsenal of fire-fighting equipment, the 75-foot aerial ladder truck.
“So, who going to be driving this thing?” he asked. “Uh-oh, I see too many hands!”
A wave of laughter rippled through the crowd, many of whom had raised their hands in jest…partly. It was, after all a very nice state-of-the-art fire truck waiting outside.
The new truck was the only one in Florida financed by a USDA economic impact grant from the USDA, Machek said, another “first” for Madison County.
“You’re ready for the future,” he told the audience. As he looked down at the front of the podium, he joked, “I see the check is still here. You haven’t cashed it yet?”
“It bounced,” said someone in the audience as laughter broke out. Actually, someone else added, it was too big to go through the ATM machine.
Machek then introduced Fire Chief Alfred Martin, who spoke very briefly before inviting everyone outside for the demonstration.
With the audience gathered several yards away, the crew activated the truck and the ladder slowly lifted from the top and extended to its full 75-foot length. Those on the ground watched the increasingly tiny figure of Firefighter/EMT Matthew LaMendola ascending to the very top of the ladder, and waited expectantly for the final big moment, when the hose was turned on.
LaMendola demonstrated how the hose could be turned in different directions while the truck crew simultaneously rotated the ladder, spreading the jet of water over a vast area of the paved parking lot while the truck itself remained stationary. Because it was also a rather windy day, a fine mist of water even reached some of the spectators.
A few moments later, with LaMendola safely back on the ground, the ladder slowly retracted and folded itself back into position on top of the fire engine. Chief Fire Inspector Juan Williams drove the truck around to the gathered spectators to allow them an up-close inspection of the truck and all it had to offer.
Still, it was hard to imagine how the crew would top the water-jet demonstration, but the flashing strobe lights and shrieking siren marked a satisfying conclusion, with people snapping photos and lining up beside the truck to have their picture taken with it.
A few moments later, the Madison County Fire and Rescue Crew climbed aboard and the truck turned back toward town, heading for the fire station.