“I don’t care what Billy says, it won’t fly,” Fire Chief Donald C. Morris commented as the truck took off north on Washington Street with Burris at the wheel Friday.
Burris, Morris and City Manager Ford Patton were taking the new vehicle out to the U.S. Highway 181 Bypass to run it up to its maximum speed of 72 mph.
Since the $339,000 monster hit town Friday, anyone who missed seeing the new vehicle around town has not been paying attention.
From the “monitor nozzle” on top of the pump controls to the huge, rubber tires that meet the road, the Pierce combination tanker, pumper and rescue vehicle is a sight to behold.
Earlier, Captain Kirk Delgado bragged about being in charge of the new machine. Until Friday he had been captain of the BVFD’s oldest firetruck. Now he is in charge of the newest one.
Delgado and Burris proudly started opening doors and showing off the equipment that came with the vehicle. In the back a small engine powers the hydraulic pumps that work a collection of Hurst Rescue Tools.
“The $30,000 for the Jaws of Life system came from our chicken barbecues,” Burris said. “It’s got a built-in motor, a cutter, two rams and one spreader and we can operate two tools at one time.”
Morris showed off the four jump seats in the rear of the spacious, four-door cab. The back of each seat has a space between the pads where firemen can put the air tanks of Scott Air Pack systems.
Morris said four firemen can hit the “911” seats, strap on the packs and be ready to jump from the truck and start fighting a fire as soon as their feet hit the ground.
Although the department had yet to equip the truck with hoses Friday, they had them on board by this week. Burris said he expects it to take about a week and a half to get the truck completely rigged up with all the gear it will carry.
The truck also has storage space for four spare air pack tanks and a variety of other rescue and fire fighting equipment.
Burris said the big truck is powered by a 400 horsepower Cummins diesel which has 1,300 foot pounds of torque. An Allison, five-speed automatic transmission can push the big truck up to highway speed in seconds.
Once the vehicle gets to the fire, an on-board, 1,000 gallon water tank allows the crew to get to work immediately. With the ability to apply compressed air foam and Class B foam to fight oil and gas fires, Burris said the truck can pump an equivalent of 3,000 gallons of water on a fire in just minutes.
Burris demonstrated the capability of starting the on-board generator from inside the cab. He said the driver can have the generator turned on and the exterior lights illuminating the scene of a fire as soon as the truck rolls to a stop.
Patton said the city first started the process of obtaining the new truck back in March 2006, using a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program.
The USDA initially offered to provide $100,000 toward the purchase in the form of a grant. Later, the Bee County Rural Central Fire District provided $50,000 to be used toward the purchase of the truck and equipment for the vehicle.
The purchase finally became possible with the USDA purchased $210,000 in bonds from the city, allowing the bonds to be repaid at a low interest rate over a period of 10 years.
“So it was a long process,” Patton said.
The city manager said the USDA will be sending Tammy Treviño to Beeville for a special reception on Friday, Aug. 14 to officially hand over the new truck to the city. The vehicle should be completely equipped and in service by then.
Patton said Treviño, the administrator of Housing and Community Facilities for the USDA’s Rural Development Program, will be at the C.M. “Smitty” Smith Central Fire Station at 10 a.m. for that event.