By CHRISTIN COYNE
Peaster Volunteer Fire Department put their first brand new engine into service Wednesday night.
The new Pierce urban interface truck was backed into the station in a special ceremony last week by firefighters who were excited to have a more reliable and versatile vehicle to respond to fire department calls.
The new engine, which cost ESD No. 1 approximately $400,000, replaces a 17-year-old engine that was purchased by the volunteer department in 2000, Deputy Chief Leo Scott said.
The new engine can handle just about anything and, most importantly, is reliable, Scott said.
“It’s got to be able to start when you go up there at night,” Scott said.
The older engine, called the Dragonslayer by firefighters, often had something breaking down and repairs were costly, he said. It has already been sold.
They don’t expect to have the same problems with a brand new engine and hope to be able to do more with it.
“It has the capabilitities to do anything and everything,” Scott said, adding that they can respond to wildland fires and search and rescue calls as well as structure fires with the new truck.
Unlike an engine purchased by a municipality such as Weatherford, their new truck can go off road, use unimproved driveways and go where a typical city fire engine can’t, Scott said.
“It’s big,” Scott said, joking that a ladder is needed to get in the cab.
It has all-wheel drive, an on-board generator, it’s own lighting system and a communications system, he said.
They can even spray water from a turret gun on top or from a gun mounted on the bumper without getting out the truck, he said.
“We’re extremely proud of it,” Scott said. “It’s basically a go anywhere, do anything truck.”
They will still be using the smaller brush trucks to fight brush fires but can use the new engine to protect a house, with a wall of flames coming at it, Scott said.
The recent annexation of the fire district by ESD No. 1 has freed up funds for the fire department to reach several of the VFD’s goals.
With dwindling donations and growing costs, they likely wouldn’t have lasted more than three more years without an additional funding source, according to Scott.
“Joining the ESD has allowed us to receive the funds to buy something that wasn’t used and worn out already,” Scott said.
With additional taxpayer support from the ESD covering other costs, the department has been able to use the money they had been saving for a rainy day to finish improvements to their station in recent months, as well.
For the first time in 52 years, the station now has air conditioning, according to Scott — just in time for two paid staff that now cover the district from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, according to Scott.