CHESTER The new aerial apparatus purchased by Pottersville Volunteer Fire Department will take its fleet to new heights — 95 feet to be exact.
The newly purchased 2003 fire truck has a tower — ladder with platform on the end — that can extend to a maximum of 95 feet — 10 feet longer than the 1982 truck it is replacing.
It’s a significant purchase for the department in northern Warren County that specializes in providing aerial mutual aid.
The 1982 apparatus was donated to an agency that helps provide fire protection to third world countries. Its destination is the southwestern pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea after it is repaired in Pennsylvania. Pottersville Chief Guy Swartwout said reportedly there are only three such trucks in that country.
The 2003 KME aerial fire truck was purchased from Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus with no need to increase taxes in the Pottersville Fire District.
The cost was about $225,000, and to buy a brand new model would have cost $800,000 to $1 million, said Chief Guy Swartwout.
Thanks to planning, the department was able to put a significant down payment on the vehicle. Swartwout said the Pottersville Board of Commissioners worked with Brindlee and a leasing company to delay the first payment.
“There were a whole bunch of pieces that came together to make it happen,” he said.
The new truck, designated “Tower-5” by Warren County, is the third aerial apparatus owned by Pottersville. In northern Warren County, each fire department specializes in a specific expertise and equipment, Swartwout said. Pottersville has a niche in aerial equipment.
He said there are several buildings that would need aerial water streams in case of a fire. The tower also helps in rescue situations, especially in some of the older three-story wooden buildings where fire spreads especially rapidly.
The apparatus can stream 1,000 gallons of water a minute as opposed to 200 to 300 for a ground hose, he said.
“It’s better than having a group of people take a hose where the fire is. You can work it remotely from the air and put the water where it needs to be,” he said.
It also provides mutual aid to several communities in the area.
“Pottersville is firmly committed to and well established in the aerial business. The acquisition of this valuable asset will only strengthen (the department’s) ability to effectively fight its own fires and those in our neighboring, mutual aid districts and fire protection areas and make critical rescues possible and more likely successful. In addition, the work with this unit will provide a much higher level of safety for the firefighters facing the dangers of performing that work,” Swartwout said in a news release.
Finding the used apparatus and doing the extensive work of negotiations, fixes and changes desired before the truck came north, logistics of delivery, and much more of making this important piece possible and happen was predominantly the work of department member Jeff Finch,” Swartwout said.
He, Commissioner Frank Meade, and Assistant Chief Kevin Feldt traveled to Huntsville, Alabama to inspect and test the truck and arrange a number of requests that Brindlee fixed, added, or changed before delivering it, Swartwout said.
About 15 years ago Pottersville purchased its first aerial truck — 1972 Snorkel — for $25,000. At the time, no comparable apparatus is available for the area from Lake George to Ticonderoga to Lake Placid, the chief wrote in a news release.
An assessment found several places where the aerial truck could make a difference. Potential victim rescue needs, sites where an elevated water master stream would be needed, tall and large buildings in the Pottersville District and areas it served in mutual aid all indicated aerial apparatus. For example, it was used in a climbing tower rescue, the Mountain Inn fire in Minerva, Daby’s Store in Brant Lake, Brown’s Sawmill, a roof fire at the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga and others.
The new truck is a credited component of the Insurance Service Organization (ISO) evaluation of fire agencies which establishes a scale that insurance companies use in setting fire insurance rates. The aerial in Pottersville will contribute to a better rating in that scale which could positively influence fire insurance rates, the chief said.
The Snorkel was sold to Moriah Fire Department for $5,000 and in 2009 Pottersville purchased West Glens Falls Fire Company’s 1982 aerial truck for $5,000 when that company replaced its apparatus.