Patterson’s growing fire department got its most recent addition two weeks ago — a 3,000-gallon water tender.
Wednesday, 07 November 2007
The modified 2007 International will serve as a portable water source for firefighters who need to hose down flames that are not close to a water system. The $230,000 vehicle is getting the last of its equipment installed this week. After that, it will be ready to roll.
Though the new tender is easier to maneuver, the older tender beats it in water capacity.
“We’re losing about 1,200 gallons,” said Division Chief Jeff Gregory of the Patterson Fire Department. “But we’ll be able to get there a lot quicker.”
Water tenders typically carry large amounts of water to fires in rural areas, Gregory explained. Given the vast amount of agricultural land surrounding Patterson, the new tender is likely to see a lot of action.
Gregory estimates the older tender will still be sent out at least once a week, too.
The new vehicle is more versatile and easier to handle and requires less maintenance than the old one, Gregory said. It also can be driven by anyone with a special class-B driver’s license, which certifies firefighters to drive equipment such as fire trucks. The old truck required a class-A license.
“Some of the guys can drive the (older tender) like a little Volkswagen,” Gregory said. “Other guys aren’t that good.”
He remembered one incident when the old tender needed to be backed up about 300 yards. He decided to wait until the road was a little clearer, but a firefighter from Turlock volunteered to move it right away. He got behind the wheel and backed the truck up in a zigzag.
“‘Man, I should have waited,’” Gregory recalled the firefighter saying.
Maneuverability aside, many who used the old tender appreciate its large water capacity.
Gregory recalled other firefighters commenting that they were always happy to see the old yellow tender arrive on scene, because it meant there would be enough water.
With the Patterson station welcoming the new tender, the older one will move to the Diablo Grande Fire Station.
The West Stanislaus Fire Protection District got the old tender in the early ’70s, said Dick Gaiser, who’s been with the district since 1978. The trailer portion of it is a large aluminum container that at one time was used to haul vegetable oil.
Volunteers managed to raise the money to buy that vehicle.
Volunteers also helped raise money for the new tender — about $30,000 — with the district covering the remainder.
The tender is just the most recent addition to Patterson-area fire protection. The paid firefighters have seen their ranks swell the past two years, and much of the department will move once Station Two in west Patterson’s Keystone Pacific Business Park is finished in the next few weeks.