POINT PLEASANT — Volunteers with the Flatrock Volunteer Fire Department recently gathered at the the Point Pleasant Boat Launch to learn how to operate the new Engine 41 fire truck.
Engine 41 features a SAM control system from Hale Products, which is a pump control with a touch screen that also has wireless tablet capabilities that can be added — the first truck of its kind in West Virginia.
According to the SAM website, “SAM is an integrated total water control system that manages your truck’s pump, tank, intakes and discharges. The SAM system replaces your pressure governor and takes care of opening and closing valves based on operator settings. Instead of a complex fire truck pump panel, you can have all your pump controls in a 10 inch touch-screen display.”
Fire Chief Stephen Holley said this is benefit when it comes to being shorthanded — something fire departments across the nation have struggled with for years.
“[With] the lack of manpower, that relieved you another guy, Holley said. “Set it and walk off, do your thing. As long as you [have] water, it will do its [job] to keep itself going.”
The US Fire Department Profile report issued by the National Fire Protection Association in February 2018 said, “Despite the importance of the US volunteer fire service, volunteer recruitment and retention has been steadily decreasing for the past three decades. Volunteer rates have dropped from a high of 8.05 volunteers per 1,000 people in 1987 to a low of 5.8 in 2017.”
Holley said during the training, firefighters learned the ins and outs of the truck and program.
“The guys are learning how to pump it, how to set the hoses, how to run pressures, how to draft off the truck and the hydrant. Everything,” Holley said.
While the department came out, despite the cold temperatures for the in-depth training session, Holley said it will be at least another month to two months before the truck can be put in service, with several more hours of training needed.
Engine 41 was purchased from the Mason County fire and EMS levy passed in 2020, replacing a 1991 model engine — truck replacements are recommended after 10 years of service.
“[It’s recommended] to refurbish them every 10 years pretty much and that’s hard to do,” Holley said. “I mean, it’s what the money that the state gives us, in which every county is different, but with the funding that we get, it’s hard to replace a truck every ten years, I can tell you that.”
Holley said Engine 41 cost around $320,000, with other similar upscale models running $650,000-plus.
Engine 41 is the second replacement truck that Flatrock has been able to obtain within the last year.
“We just got that one [3,000 gallon pump] in November, this one in December,” Holley said. “This, our levy dollars paid for this. The county, the community is paying for that. That one [3,000 gallon pump] was on a grant.”
Holley said the replacement trucks were much needed for the department.
The Mason County Commission said seeing Flatrock’s need and use of the truck allows citizens to see the usefulness of the levy.
“This will show the citizens from Mason County where the levy dollars are spent and they should be super proud,” said Sam Nibert, commission president.
The Flatrock Volunteer Fire Department is currently raising funds through various fundraisers in an effort to purchase an inflatable fire safety house to be used around the county to help in teaching fire safety. More information can be found on the department’s Facebook page.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at 740-446-2342 ext 2555.