by Jonathan Weaver
After a 13-month process, Kittanning Hose Company #4 has parked their new piece of apparatus in the Orr Avenue station:
A 2013 Rosenbauer fire engine, worth about $368,000.
Line officers were notified through email last week by Kaza Fire Equipment – which is the regional dealer for Rosenbauer –that they wished to drop off the customized truck a week before it is taken to the Monroeville Convention Center for the Pittsburgh Fire and Rescue EMS Expo February 23.
Firefighters brought it into town in a big way – parading it through Kittanning Borough with Hose Company’s #1 and #6 and Applewold Borough.
Hose Company #4 Fire Chief and Borough Fire Marshal Earl “Buzz” Kline drive the truck from Trader Horn into town last night and also drove it at the Rosenbauer manufacturing plant in Lyons, South Dakota.
“(The truck) is everything we expected it to be. It rides like a Cadillac – you can’t imagine a truck that big to ride that good,” Kline said. “It’s here now and should give (the company’s 17 active firefighters and the community) something to be proud of.”
Kittanning Hose Company #4 2nd Assistant Chief Mike Swartz showcased several custom features to the new apparatus, which includes a rotating carousel that fits eight air packs besides the five in the enclosed cab, roll-up equipment doors and a built-in foam system.
“It’s a custom-built pumper because it’s not what I call ‘cookie cutter.’ It’s designed the way we wanted it- all the way down to the type of lighting in it,” Swartz said.
Kaza Sales Representative Rick Smith said officials had many late-night sessions customizing the truck, and added that it includes a 1,500-gallon per minute pump and LED lighting.
“It’s basically state-of-the-art right now,” Smith said.
Smith himself has been a firefighter for the Blairsville Fire Department for more than 20 years – which Swartz appreciated.
“(Smith) what we were talking about – he talked the language,” Swartz said.
Kaza Fire Equipment Owner Andrew Kaza – who has been a volunteer firefighter for the past 50+ years at the Dauntless Fire Company in Ebensburg, including for eight years as fire chief – also came to Kittanning to complete the delivery.
“I personally try to make every delivery. My salesmen are out and doing a good job, and I want to thank the customers personally for their business,” Kaza said. “I know the salesmen will be here all the time thanking them, but I feel it’s better if I also show up and show my appreciation.”
Most of the truck’s expense was paid for through a January 2012 $340,000 federal grant, which Swartz thanked County Division Director Jennifer Bellas for her help in. The remainder was paid through the fire company.
“The check’s already been made out to Rosenbauer, so it’s free and clear. It didn’t cost the taxpayers or the Borough any money at all,” Swartz said.
Even though the engine has been delivered, Swartz said it won’t be until April when local residents see it fighting fires.
“We’re probably looking at the first part of April before we put this in-service. We have to give time to train guys in a driving course and then to drive around town to get familiar with our streets – it’s bigger than our other pumper so, they have to get familiar with it and their surroundings,” Swartz said. “Once we do that, we’ll start packing hose and everything and do some practical exercises.”
The current engine – a 1984 American LaFrance – will remain in-service during the interim. Swartz was also involved in the department when that truck was purchased, but said the LaFrance – coincidentally the last piece of fire equipment owned by Kittanning Borough – will be sold to an individual or broker since it does not meet new safety inspection regulations.
Fire apparatus is registered under the Borough’s insurance.
The chrome bell at the front of the LaFrance was moved to the Rosenbauer.