By Kristin Schultz
It’s the stuff of little kids’ dreams and it’s parked in the fire station on Balltown Road. Three weeks ago, Niskayuna Fire District 1 took delivery of its brand-new fire engine, which replaced an engine that had been in service since 1996.
Fire Chief Dale Lingenfelter estimates the new apparatus, the workhorse of the department, will see plenty of action as it is a first-response vehicle. “It will probably respond to 450 to 500 calls per year,” said Lingenfelter.
In the 21 years since the old engine was purchased, there have, of course, been many technological advances. The new engine boasts LED lights, which are brighter and draw less power from the truck’s power supply, instead of incandescent. It also features a back-up camera that, like in many cars, allows the driver to see what’s going on behind the engine.
The new engine also holds 750 gallons of water, a 50 percent increase over the old engine’s capacity. New electronic features, including a pressure governor, ensures the firefighters are safe as they route water both to the hoses and through the roof-mounted water gun.
“Ergonomics and safety were a strong focus in the planning process,” said Lingenfelter. He pointed out that safety handles and fold-down steps are meant to reduce tripping around the engine.
In addition to technology and safety features, Lingenfelter said he has received positive feedback from personnel who report the new engine handles and brakes well.
While safety, ease of use and function serve the firefighters well, the ultimate purpose of the truck is to serve the community. The chief said the new engine does just that.
“The biggest benefit of the new truck to the community is its reliability,” he said. All of the district’s vehicles are regularly maintained, he added, but, like any piece of equipment, fire apparatus have a life cycle.
After taking delivery of the new engine, the district’s personnel spent about a week loading and organizing firefighting and rescue equipment, with fire equipment like axes and hose fittings on one side and rescue equipment on the other, including a new battery-operated jaws of life spreader and a battery-operated jaws of life cutter for vehicle extractions.
The cab of the engine accommodates six firefighters and their gear with the driver and officer in the front seats and room for four in the rear of the cab.
“A lot of thought, time and energy went into getting this engine,” said Lingenfelter. “Our people are excited to work and train on it. The more effective and efficient we can be, the better it is for the community.”
The engine cost just over $500,000 and was paid for out of the apparatus reserve account. The district contributes regularly to this account so that when a piece of equipment needs to be replaced, the funds are available.
Lingenfelter reported that the district will not need to replace any other apparatus for another six years. He also said that the old engine will likely be sold as surplus.