Firefighters all ready to roll

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2003

The Craig Volunteer Fire Department just got a 20-year upgrade.

According to Fire Chief Stewart Corley, his department received a 1989 fire engine on Saturday. The department’s last upgrade was about seven years ago when it replaced a 1955 engine with a 1969 model.

The new engine &045;&045; which is ready for use &045;&045; has a foam system and increased seating area that the older model didn’t’ have.

Firefighters were required to suck foam from buckets when extinguishing fuel fires with the older model. The new engine, though, has a dial on its side allowing volunteers to determine how much foam is mixed with water within the engine &045;&045; no buckets required.

Another change is the number of seats the new engine has &045;&045; six. Two smaller, fold-down seats push the number to eight.

Deputy Fire Chief Dave Skrobak pointed to exterior lights and the engine’s built-in generator system as a new feature.

Another bonus of the new engine is its speed. The old engine had problems reaching the speed limit on U.S. Highway 80, Corley said; it could only reach 55 mph. Saturday’s purchase won’t have that problem.

According to Corley, the new engine might not be the only change for those in the department’s service area. Currently, the area has an ISO rating of nine; that rating plays a large role in determining homeowners’ insurance.

A rating review will occur in autumn, Corley said. &uot;We’re hoping we’ll drop two to three points by ISO,&uot; he added.

The engine was originally used by a Virginia fire department, but made its way to Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus &045;&045; a company near Huntsville &045;&045; earlier this year. Craig volunteer members went shopping for an engine in May when they saw their newest buy.

A down payment was made the same day, and financing for the engine was secured from SouthTrust Bank shortly afterwards.

Skrobak said a number of larger fire departments only use trucks for five to 10 years before getting new ones. That gives volunteer fire departments a chance to upgrade their equipment.