By NATHAN GREGORY
Central Oktibbeha Volunteer Fire Department officials welcomed a new addition to their roster Friday.
The department is replacing its 1996 GMC pumper truck with a new 2012 Freightliner pumper built by Seminary-based Deep South Fire Trucks.
The $209,950 truck features a 1,250-gallon-per-minute pump, a 1,000-gallon water tank and flood lights among other updated accessories and storage.
The new truck is the second one the county has received this year. Bell Schoolhouse received a new truck in February through grant money awarded by the Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Assistance Program.
This truck was paid for with local tax dollars and insurance rebate money, County Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan said.
“Hopefully it will have a 20 year life,” Rosenhan said. “There will be a training session put on by the manufacturer in the next week. It’s quite different. For instance, the throttle on this one is electronic as opposed to handle (-operated).”
Fire services representative Austin Check said the update was necessary not only so the department can maintain its rating and get credit from the Mississippi Fire Ratings Bureau,, but because so much community growth has taken place since the purchase of the 1996 pumper.
“Fire equipment is no different than any other equipment. Think about trying to use a computer that is 15 years old now versus the technology it has to be compatible with,” Check said. “It becomes every year less cost effective to keep that truck on the road. Parts are going to get harder to come by. It’s not the ‘today’ benefit. We’re buying a truck to get us the next 15 years in the future. We’ve quadrupled from the time that truck was purchased now. Where are we going to be in 15 years? Communities are growing, the university is growing … the county itself is growing.”
Check said the new pumper is also safer than its predecessor.
“The benefit of this new truck is it has electronic stability control, so it’s a safer vehicle,” he said.
COVFD Chief Bennet George said he’s glad to see the arrival of the new pumper and the old one will still be used as a spare.
“It may get handed down to another department that has satellite stations. Some of the departments in the county have more than one station and the second stations typically have much older equipment,” George said. “This will probably end up going to one of those stations where it will be a lot younger than what they’ve got now.”
Rosenhan said the new truck will be instrumental in providing better emergency services to the Longview community.
“Given the mission of the truck, it’s got to be about 110 percent ready at all times even though we don’t use it every day,” Rosenhan said. “It’s not so much what we’ve done. It’s what we can do.