Volunteers with the Southern Boone County Fire Protection District are awaiting delivery of three new fire trucks that are being built from their own designs.
Two of the trucks will go to the two stations under construction north and south of Ashland, and the third will replace one of the older trucks at the district’s main station in Ashland.
Although the new fire trucks will be painted red instead of the lime-green color of the existing trucks, many other changes will be made to make the trucks more compatible with the needs of the fire district, Fire Chief John Thomas said.
Nine volunteers designed the trucks and then put the contract out for manufacturers to bid on, Thomas said.
“Some of our volunteers work for Columbia’s fire department and some work for Jeff City’s, so everybody had an idea of what they wanted because they’ve worked on a truck before,” Thomas said. “Our last new engine was built in 1993, so a lot of things have changed. We wanted some depth and the compartments to be of a little bit different design to work with us for 20 to 30 years. Plus, we’re in a rural setting, so we need extra room to hold water.”
Two of the new trucks will hold 1,000 gallons of water and the third will hold 850 gallons. Each truck will be able to serve as a rescue vehicle as well, fitted with generators to light large areas, chains and equipment for auto extrications. The trucks will also have deeper compartments to hold other equipment for emergencies, Thomas said.
George Zimny, fire district board treasurer, said each truck costs $186,000. The three new trucks will serve with the other eight trucks that are in service.
Funding for the trucks came from a $1.4 million April bond issue passed by district voters.
Zimny said the money is being divided up among the two new stations, the three new trucks and other new equipment for the trucks.
The remaining balance will be used as contingency in case the costs of the new stations or trucks change, Zimny said. The contract was awarded in September to Fire Master of Springfield, and the trucks are expected to be delivered in March.
Donny Shelton, sales representative for Fire Master, said this is not the first time his company has done business with the Southern Boone district.
“We built a truck for them several years ago, and they liked the product,” Shelton said. “All trucks are pretty much tailor-made now, and we have more of the expertise when it comes to designing the trucks and putting them together. They have the concepts for what they needed as firefighters, but they need to rely on somebody who can help them out — who knows what their needs are — but also how to put it together.”