Union firefighters have updated equipment to better battle some blazes.

The Union Fire Protection District recently purchased a 1998 Pierce ladder truck that will be active beginning Dec. 31, according to Fire Chief Russ Hamilton.

He explained that a ladder truck is a “mechanical” apparatus that must be functioning at all times.

“We expect this to perform at 100 percent at a moment’s notice,” said Hamilton. “Something mechanical with age to it is bound to fail.”

“When a vehicle gets into the 20-year range, to make it function with today’s technology, that is pushing it,” he Hamilton.

He said the truck has been requiring more maintenance due to its age, and was becoming costly to keep up.

The 1998 Pierce ladder truck with a quantum chassis was purchased from the Kearney Fire and Rescue Protection District.

Hamilton added that the truck came at a discount compared to purchasing a new vehicle.

“We got it for a reasonable cost and the truck is in excellent condition with low mileage,” he said. ‘It needed some updating so we developed a refurbishing plan.”

Hamilton noted that the updates, including recertification of the ladder and mechanical work, totaled less than $100,000.

“If we were to have to buy a new ladder truck it would have been closer to $1 million,” he said. “It’s pretty neat that we were able to get a $1 million apparatus for $300,000.”

Union firefighters mounted equipment to the truck, which helped save the district money.

The truck replaces a 1989 ladder truck that had become outdated. That truck was sold to the Appalachian Fire District in Virginia. This is the first ladder truck to be in use in Wise County, Va.

Hamilton said the 1989 truck is still in good condition, which he attributes to maintenance and upkeep.

Truck Functions

Hamilton said that the ladder truck is dispatched to fires at businesses, apartment complexes and schools.

“It makes runs to all commercial buildings in the fire district,” he said.

Hamilton noted that the ladder truck will be sent to calls at the Franklin County government buildings, East Central College, Chapel Ridge Apartments and other larger facilities in the district.

The truck could also be used to investigate possible fire issues in heating or air-conditioning units on the roofs of buildings.

“We can put the ladder right up to the roof and check out the problem,” he said.

Now, a pumper truck is the first to leave the firehouse during a call, but that could change

“Once we get equipment moved around, this ladder truck might be the first one out,” Hamilton said.

According to Hamilton, the new truck will help maintain the district’s lower ISO rating which affects insurance rates.