Controversial Atwater (CA) Fire Apparatus Delivered

Fire officials will put the 109-foot ladder truck on display for an hour before Monday’s meeting.

The highly anticipated fire truck has been a sore subject in Atwater for more than a year. One group criticized using $890,048 from Measure H money — a half-cent sales tax approved by voters for public safety — to pay off the truck over the next 10 years.

Adding fuel to the fire was last month’s announcement that the nearly million-dollar firetruck needs $80,000 in equipment to make it functional.

On the other hand, supporters of the truck say it replaces two aging fire engines, gives firefighters better access to tall buildings and could spur economic growth by attracting multistory businesses. Fire officials can also use the truck to assist with vehicle extractions and medical calls.

Firefighters must receive specialized training before they can operate the truck, officials from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection confirmed Thursday.

“This just makes our job much easier and gives us better access,” said Cal Fire engineer John Rice. “It’s definitely good to be progressive in this field, and it will benefit the community as a whole.”

The “demo truck” has about 5,500 miles on it, having traveled from San Diego to Clovis and Modesto for trade shows over the past year. However, buying a truck with miles on it saved the city $40,000, fire officials said.

Atwater Mayor Jim Price didn’t hide his opposition to the fire truck purchase before the November election. He wanted to see Measure H money spent on hiring more police officers and putting “boots on the ground.”

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