The excitement and the crowd kept growing Friday morning as current and former fire personnel, volunteers and other city employees gathered to welcome the city’s newest arrival.
But this one wasn’t crying or wearing diapers; instead, its lights were flashing.
Personnel from the Pierce Company’s dealer in Summerville predicted the arrival time for the city’s new $950,000 aerial fire truck for 11 a.m. When the truck wasn’t there then, Conway Fire Chief Le Hendrick texted the drivers and found them at a convenience store near Pitt’s Landing where they had stopped to clean the new aerial truck so it would look its best when it pulled into the porte coterie of the Conway Public Safety building.
Hendrick said the truck, that was part of a four-year deal with three annual payments, will be helpful for the Conway fire personnel, who will be able to maneuver the shorter truck in tighter spaces.
The truck will be housed in East Conway where it is needed to rush past students, their cars and in narrow streets; however, the truck, with its superior technology, will respond to all areas of the city.
“This is the first new aerial apparatus that we’ve purchased since 1991,” Hendrick said.
During those 28 years, the city has bought two used aerial trucks that are old and outdated, he said.
It will be about one month before the truck starts showing up at fires because there are some extras that need to be attached and fire personnel needs to be trained, particularly with using the truck’s new digital components.
Personnel from the Summerville dealership planned to spend three days troubleshooting in Conway, going over maintenance and teaching the Conwayites how to use the truck’s new technology instead of tugging at its more traditional levers.
“It’s a new ballgame for us…We’re all learning together,” Hendrick said, adding, “We want to make sure before we turn them loose with a million dollar apparatus, they know what they doing.”
Although the Summerville dealer delivered the truck, the Pierce Company in Appleton, Wisc., built it. Including interest, the truck will have a final cost of $1.06 million.
The chief said the new truck is part of a three-part apparatus replacement program with the next piece coming in perhaps four to five years.
“I’m really excited. This is an historic event…This truck will last us at least 10 to 15 years. It’s got the newest technology. It’s ahead of the game,” he said.