Fire Truck

A Washington Fire Department truck was the first vehicle across the new Camp Street bridge. The bridge officially opened to traffic Thursday afternoon. The new bridge replaces an old span that was destroyed in the 1960s. One of the reasons cited for a new bridge was to provide better fire protection, which is why a fire truck got to cross the bridge first. KJ Unnerstall Construction was the contractor for the project.  Missourian Photo.

Big fires require big water and the newly formed Washington Community Fire Protection District is beefing up its fire suppression arsenal with a new 2,100-gallon water tanker.

Fire Chief Bill Halmich says at the formation of the new district, the first priority would be to strengthen the amount of water they can get to the scene.

U.S. Tanker LLC, based in Delavan, Wisc., was the low bidder on the new apparatus that comes with a base price tag of $269,000.

Halmich estimates an additional $13,000 to $15,000 for lettering and equipment, including a portable water tank and hoses, will be needed before the truck goes into service.

Currently, the department has one tanker that runs on all first-alarm fires.

Once the new tanker is in service, most likely in January, it will immediately double the amount of water available at a rural fire in areas without fire hydrants.

“We are the only fire district in the area to only have one tanker,” Halmich said. “We purchased the tanker we have now in 2001.”

The chief added, although the frequency of fires requiring tanker shuttles had decreased over the past few years, they still have between six and eight calls per year that require extra water to be hauled in.

“Going by square miles, we have hydrants in 20 percent of our fire district,” Halmich said. “But, many of those hydrants don’t supply adequate water for sustained fire operations.”

The single-axle truck with a two-man cab is expected to arrive in December and be a permanent fixture of engine house 5 in Krakow.

Halmich said training on the truck will take about a month and it would be put on the front line after the first of the year.

The truck committee assembled by the fire district board was tasked to design the new tanker as close to the old one as possible so engineers familiar with the existing truck could get up to speed quickly.

Tanker Shuttles

In certain circumstances, especially in rural areas, several tankers are needed to sustain firefighting operations and keep water supplied to the pumpers and firefighters attacking the fire.

In most cases, a portable tank that holds 3,000 gallons on average is placed near the pumper and is also easily accessible to a road so tankers can shuttle water from filling points at a hydrant or body of water.

The water is continuously dumped in the portable tank and is then drafted, or sucked into the pumper, through the hoses to the nozzles or master streams.

Depending on the size of the fire and proximity to a water source multiple tankers can be required at a scene.

In some areas of the country, especially in western states, tankers are referred to as tenders and firefighting aircraft are given the tanker moniker.