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Kansas City Fire Department replaces heavy rescue trucks

By John Shultz
The Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Fire Department is rolling out hulking $600,000 heavy rescue trucks, all bought by the quarter-cent sales tax increase voters approved in 2001.

The three new vehicles replace smaller, well-worn units that were pushing 10 years old, said Rescue Division Chief Todd Ackerson. The first new one went into service last week, the second should be up and running today, and the third is expected to start answering calls next week.

Each truck is outfitted with state-of-the-art rescue equipment — including shallow-water rafts, three kinds of search cameras and tripods that aid in confined-space rescues, such as through manholes. Federal Homeland Security funds paid for each truck’s complement of about $350,000 worth of equipment.

“Every time you see one of these rescue units, that’s almost a million dollars rolling down the street,” Ackerson said. “We have everything on these trucks. It’s real similar to a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) team.”

Besides water and confined-space operations, rescue companies are called upon during structure and trench collapses.

Kansas City’s heavy rescue trucks will work in tandem with similarly newly outfitted units in the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District and the Kansas City, Kan., and Olathe fire departments to form a regional heavy rescue response team.

Ackerman said that regional approach was already used last summer when Kansas City and Jackson County units went to Clinton, Mo., to assist with rescue efforts after the Elks Lodge collapsed. While they were gone, Olathe and Kansas City, Kan., filled in locally.

Kansas City has 72 firefighters trained in heavy rescue. The three new units are housed at Station 17 at 34th Street and the Paseo, Station 35 at 5005 Swope Parkway, and Station 25 at 401 E. Missouri Ave.

Last year, the department added about 40 replacement pumper and ladder trucks to its fleet for about $14 million. The pumpers ran about $300,000 and the ladders cost about $750,000. The money for those trucks also came from the quarter-cent sales tax.

Copyright 2007 The Kansas City Star
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News