New Trucks Transcend Generations

Issue 8 and Volume 22.

Chris Mc Loone   Chris Mc Loone

We’ve been reading a lot about rescue trucks during the past few months.

Bill Adams has taken us through the specification process and discussed the myriad options to consider when purchasing one. This month, Adams and Ricky Riley talk about the pros and cons of walk-in or walk-around rescue in our “FA Viewpoints” department, and Peter Ong’s cover story profiles a unique rescue rig from the San Diego (CA) Fire Department. Tired of rescue trucks yet?

During the past few months, we’ve also talked about embracing our future fire service leaders as well as the fire trucks of the future. Taking delivery of a new rescue truck at my fire company in the past year and watching our future leaders get all of our trucks ready leading up to the Independence Day holiday have afforded me the opportunity to reflect on both.

First, regarding the truck, the truck committee had its hands full in the beginning planning stages for the new truck. There are size restrictions in the firehouse, both height and length, so the new truck couldn’t be any taller and not much longer than the one it was replacing. But one debate was whether to go with a walk-in or walk-around. The truck committee ended up going with a walk-in but acknowledged a need for storage by shortening the walk-in area. So, after hearing about how the committee went back and forth before coming to a consensus, it was interesting to read Adams’s and Riley’s opinions on walk-in and walk-around rescues.

It’s also amazing how things have changed since 2002. We read in these pages every month about new technologies and innovations, but sometimes it’s hard to realize how far we’ve come until you see two trucks side by side. Equipment mounting advances are obvious on the new rig. And, all the compartments have LineX applied.

There are also some things you don’t see. For example, LED lighting on this truck means the new one has a smaller generator. All roll-up doors and LED strip compartment lighting mean no more lights in the doors and along compartment walls with bezels that can get pretty banged up over time.

One noticeable difference is the lack of “belly boxes” on the new truck. We just never had any luck with them. That is not to say that other fire companies wouldn’t find tremendous value in them, but they just didn’t work for us. All in all, our truck committee did a good job building the right rescue truck for Weldon Fire Company.

Moving to the future leaders and younger firefighters, this month, I’ll have 24 years in the company. Just recently at Fourth of July prep, a fellow member who joined in 1993 and I were discussing parade prep back then. We talked about spray painting the wheel wells and rolling around underneath the trucks with a pressure washer. I will say this: Thank goodness for newer floor coverings. Our 1989 Saulsbury rescue was a walk-through, and there was a lot of diamond plate for the rookie to polish.

Sometimes it’s beneficial to just step back and sort of take in everything that is going on, remembering that you were once the rookie or young firefighter, working hard on the trucks, learning just how much it takes to get them ready, and the energy you brought to the process. As we’ve been preparing the trucks, especially the new rescue, it’s been a pleasure to watch our younger firefighters – a few of whom were invited to participate in the truck committee for the new rescue – working hard, taking pride in the appearance of the rigs, and getting them ready to hopefully win a few trophies on July 4th. You can tell which ones were involved with the new rescue. They just approach it differently. You can tell that they had a part in how it turned out, and you can tell what that means to them. It’s a sense of ownership that the folks who came in after them will someday have on future rigs.

It really is enjoyable to watch all of this unfold as someone who is probably considered one of the old guys. As I said a few months ago, generational transfers are seldom easy. But, there’s nothing like a new truck to bring multiple generations together, reminding us why we all got into this to begin with – we all want to be firefighters. That’s the one thing that will never get lost in translation between generations.