Titusville receives ladder truck replacement - Titusville Herald: News

Titusville receives ladder truck replacement

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Posted: Monday, May 20, 2019 5:00 am

A new truck is set to join the Titusville Fire Department’s fleet of vehicles, courtesy of a donation from an Eastern Pennsylvania Township.

Titusville Fire Chief Joe Lamey told The Herald that the Lower Macungie Township Commissioners unanimously approved Thursday to donate a 1993 Simon-Duplex tower ladder truck to Titusville. Lower Macungie is located near Allentown, Pennsylvania, practically on the opposite end of the state from Titusville.

According to Lamey, the township was initially seeking to sell the truck after buying a new one, but was unable to find buyers willing to pay the price point the commissioners were looking for. Without a buyer, the township began looking for other possible options for what to do with the vehicle.

Lamey said that Stanley Cupp, Lower Macungie's parks director, came across previous coverage by The Herald regarding a period of time when Titusville’s 1969 American LaFrance aerial ladder truck was temporarily taken out of commission from September 2018 to March of this year. Cupp reached out to Lamey in order to set up a possible donation. Lamey asked that Cupp email him pictures of the truck, and was surprised by what he saw.

“I was pretty startled,” Lamey said. “I was expecting something in much more of a state of disrepair, I guess.”

The vehicle is a tower ladder truck, rather than the aerial ladder truck Titusville Fire Department currently has. A tower truck has a basket at the top of its ladder, similar to a cherry picker, while an aerial truck only has a ladder.

Lamey drove down to Lower Macungie with two other firefighters on April 26 to see the truck for himself, and was further amazed at what he found.

“It is in remarkable shape for its age, and it was as advertised,” he said. “I mean, it was exactly what he said it was. There were no curveballs, there was nothing bizarre.”

Beyond being a mere replacement, the tower ladder truck is equipped with several features over the current aerial ladder truck that Lamey called the vehicle a “game changer” for the department. The basket at the top of the ladder is able to hold 1,000 pounds of weight at any angle or reach. This high weight limit allows firefighters to stay within the basket while combating blazes, rather than getting onto the rooftops of burning buildings and potentially putting themselves at risk, Lamey said.

The basket is also equipped with two master stream hoses, able to spray 2,000 gallons a minute, double what the 1969 aerial truck is capable of doing. The streams and the hoses can also be redirected and operated from the bottom of the ladder, while the aerial ladder truck requires someone at the top of the ladder to operate the hoses.

Further, the tower ladder, which was manufactured by Ladder Towers Inc., can rotate 360 degrees around the truck, and can even lower itself to the ground while extended, allowing firefighters to more easily bring people safely from burning buildings to the ground level. Comparatively, the aerial ladder truck the department has can only extend forward, and has varying weight limitations based on the angle and how far out it is.

The tower is also equipped with lights, allowing it to be used as a light tower for night-time or low visibility operations, and the truck itself has much more storage space than the current aerial ladder truck, something that is a major help in fire fighting.

“We don’t often know what it all is going to take to mitigate a situation,” Lamey said. “But with a truck that can carry this much gear, just the amount the truck can deliver to the scene is incredible.”

Despite its age, the truck has not seen much action, with only 18,000 miles on its odometer and 390 hours of aerial time, amounts which Lamey called “incredibly low.”

The truck is set to arrive in Titusville sometime next weekend. Lamey will travel down to Lower Macungie on Friday to meet with township officials and begin driving the truck on the long trek back to Titusville. However, the vehicle is too large to store in the Titusville Fire Department garage, so it will instead be temporarily placed in a building owned by Titusville Public Works located near the Titusville Water Works. The city will install an overhead door at the building, referred to as Public Works West, to allow the truck inside. While the building is not heated, the tower ladder truck has no internal water storage, so there is not a risk of any freezing taking place while the truck is stored there.

City Manager Larry Manross said the city will begin looking at costs and options for expanding the fire department’s garage to allow the truck inside. There are also currently no set plans on what to do with the aerial truck, as the city has only recently learned of the donation’s final approval.

Meanwhile, Lamey is glad to have a new, more versatile truck as part of the department’s fleet.

“While the truck we currently have is in service, I can’t say enough about the increased capabilities and safety that the truck from Lower Mcungie will provide, and it goes without saying that not only as a fire chief, but as a department and the community, we are very grateful,” Lamey said.  

According to Lamey, Lower Macungie purchased the truck when it was new in 1993. He told The Herald that, nowadays, trucks of similar years and models can run upward of $180,000 to buy.

While the truck is stored at the Public Works West facility, the on-duty department officer will have the call on when to use the vehicle. If the decision is made, off duty personnel will retrieve the truck and bring it to the scene of an incident.

Ray can be reached, by email, at sray@titusvilleherald.com.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Maryjane16354 posted at 10:34 am on Sat, May 25, 2019.

    Maryjane16354 Posts: 33

    I think it’s great that we were able to get the ladder truck for free, but where are they going to park it? It’s too big to fit in the current fire station. Was this known prior to accepting it or was this a ploy to get a new fire stat build by the current city council?

  • Noahs Bark posted at 10:49 pm on Mon, May 20, 2019.

    Noahs Bark Posts: 97

    A savings of $180K? Wow!!! I hope it’s not a lemon. We use fire engines like hogs use mud. Nice job Chief!!!

  • PGFDretired posted at 10:07 am on Mon, May 20, 2019.

    PGFDretired Posts: 6

    This is a great day for Titusville and the surrounding area! This piece of Apparatus with just 18,000 miles and 390 hours of aerial time should serve Titusville well for years to come, if it is maintained in accordance with NFPA Standards and operated by properly trained FF’s. In my opinion, Preventative maintenance should be deferred to experts and not local repair garages, this piece of apparatus is a very specialized unit. FYI for those not in the Fire Service, these LTI ladders where originally designed and constructed by Grove Manufacturing (cranes). These ladders were more robust than most other aerial devices. I was first exposed/operated a Grove Ladder in the mid 70’s and they were nearly indestructible. Congratulations Chief Lamey and the FF’s of Titusville and special thanks to Lower Macungie!

  • Jahoba posted at 8:11 am on Mon, May 20, 2019.

    Jahoba Posts: 213

    This is fantastic for the citizens of Titusville! With the money saved by not purchasing a new vehicle maybe the city can hire more police officers.


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