By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
“This truck will not be used to get cats out of trees,” said Fire Inspector Juan Williamson of the brand new 25 ton, 75-foot aerial ladder truck recently acquired for the Madison Fire and Rescue Department.
The Rotary Club got its first look at the new truck at its Aug. 17 meeting when Williamson and Training Officer Bruce Jordan presented the new truck for members’ inspection.
The cost of the truck, $587,000, was 75 percent funded by a grant from the USDA that came through last year. “We made a good impression on the USDA,” said City Manager Harold Emrich of a previous meeting with officials. “And now we’re reaping the benefits.”
The other 25 percent of the cost was covered through a cooperative agreement between the county of Madison, the city of Madison and North Florida Community College. Even with the USDA grant, Emrich said, the city couldn’t have afforded the truck on its own.
The new truck requires 11 and a half feet of clearance with the ladder folded down, and is currently housed in a bay of the 911 station, the old Ford building.
It is “not magic,” said Emrich, but it does put another, superior tool in the hands of the Madison Firefighters for attacking a fire. When fully extended, the ladder will reach the height of a five-story building; however, as aerials go, it’s a small one. There are aerial ladder trucks that reach heights of 105 to 135 feet.
However, he added, the primary component against any fire is having manned shifts 24/7 that can leave immediately in response. The keys to success are early arrival and an interior attack, and the best work is done in the first five to seven minutes. “After that, you’re at a disadvantage.”
The truck will likely see a good 15-20 year useful life, Emrich continued, however, in 10 years or less there will undoubtedly be new technology added. It will also be a useful component in economic development, when prospective new businesses want to know what kind of fire protection Madison offers.
Williamson then added that October is traditionally Fire Safety Prevention Month, when he and Training Officer Bruce Jordan visit the schools and teach children the basics of fire prevention. The National Fire Safety Council, a 501e(3) nonprofit, is helping out by supplying materials such as coloring books, crayons, pens, and other items which will help children remember the basic fire safety rules. If anyone would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the National Fire Safety Council, they may do so at any fire station. Madison Fire and Rescue is allowed to keep 98 percent of the contribution to go toward local fire safety programs.