Fire Department Receives New Rescue Truck

Written by Teresa Dennard.

Equipped with the latest rescue tools

The Carthage Fire Department recently replaced a rescue truck that had been in service for 32 years. Because it had become unreliable, unsafe to drive and overloaded with outdated equipment, City Manager Brenda Samford, along with the City Commissioners Ida Beck, John Cooke, Olin Joffrion and Lynn Vincent, agreed to find the funds to purchase a new truck. A much larger vehicle, the commercial Peterbilt cab and chassis replaced the 1-ton Chevrolet that had been in service for so long. The Fire Department sent the truck to WestTex Welding Company in West, Texas, a company that specializes in custom built rescue trucks. “We had it customized to utilize all the space we could so as not to have any wasted space,” explains Randy Liedtke, Rescue Captain for the Carthage Fire Department.  “It took them almost a year to complete and is equipped with the latest rescue tools plus a new battery-operated Jaws of Life.”

The truck is the standard red and white fire engine color and is built like a beverage truck with doors on each side that slide up. Roll-out trays hold the rescue tools and can be easily accessed from either side. Equipped with a hydraulic PTO-driven generator, the truck also houses electric reels with 150 feet of cord to power lights, rescue tools, saws or whatever is needed in the rescue process. “Another feature is a light tower that lifts 8-10 feet in the air with 4 big halogen lights that will rotate any direction to provide lighting when we’re on a rescue call,” says Liedtke. “The last fire engine we bought had the same light tower, and we liked it so much we incorporated it in the new rescue truck.”

The first call for the new truck was in January on a fatality call. Several people were trapped in the two vehicles involved in the wreck and the firemen utilized all three sets of Jaws of Life tools, two off the new truck and one from a fire truck. “It’s not unusual to use three sets of tools at a wreck scene. Most all our members are trained to use the Jaws of Life. In October of this past year our department offered an extensive Rescue Level 1 and 2 school for all the departments in the area. It was a 40-hour course and close to 40 people were trained,” commented Liedtke. “There are always changes, so it’s really important to keep up-to-date on equipment and procedures in vehicle extrication. As a fireman, you never stop learning.”