WVFD has brand new tanker in service

Published 11:35 am Monday, January 22, 2024

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The Windsor Volunteer Fire Department recently received an update to its fleet that enables the agency to better serve the community in times of great need.

The department now features a new tanker truck it helped purchase that carries 1,000 gallons more than its old tanker, helping to also replace the service that had been provided by an old engine truck from the 1970s.

WVFD Lt. Walter Bernacki, the department’s public information officer, explained how the department came to possess the brand new tanker.

“The county has a replacement program,” he said. “They try, within the fiscal restraints of their budget, to replace apparatus at least every 20 years, and that is because of a couple reasons.”

The first reason is age. The older a firetruck, the more often it starts to break down, and the less reliable it becomes.

“And the other reason is there’s technological advances within that time frame that make them more safe and ergonomic for the firefighters,” Bernacki said. “And obviously if they do their job better, it makes it safer for the citizens.”

He noted that the brand new tanker was purchased in spring 2021, but because of the delay in firetruck manufacturing, the WVFD was not able to put it into service until the end of October 2023.

It is a 2023 vehicle made by Pierce Manufacturing Inc. out of Wisconsin, and it is on a Freightliner chassis.

It has a capacity for 3,000 gallons of water, while the tanker it has replaced, a 1995 vehicle, had a capacity for only 2,000 gallons of water.

The WVFD had also been using an old engine truck from the 1970s. Because of the engine’s age, the department had been using it more like a tanker, as it held 1,000 gallons.

The new tanker can now provide the service offered by both the 1995 tanker and the 1970s engine.

“Essentially this one piece replaced two pieces, which obviously makes it more efficient, because that’s one less piece you have to have going to the scene, and you can carry the same amount of water,” Bernacki said.

It is especially the greater capacity for holding water that makes the new tanker so valuable in terms of its service to the public, particularly in rural areas.

“Considering that anything outside the corporate limits of the town of Windsor doesn’t have hydrants, we need a water source because obviously you put fire out with water, and we’ve always had a need for a tanker because you’ve got to bring that water to you,” Bernacki said. “So the more water we can bring enables us for better firefighting capabilities until mutual aid companies can get there.”

He noted that the new tanker cost approximately $420,000.

A portion of the funds to pay for it came from the department, and Isle of Wight County funds the other portion of it.

Referencing the money raised by the WVFD’s pork barbecue that is held every November, Bernacki said, “That money goes into the apparatus fund, and that’s what helps purchase these apparatuses so that we can obviously replace them on that (20-year) schedule and then be able to better serve the citizens with the new units.”

He noted that the department surplused and sold its old engine in an open bid process. For the 1995 tanker, “we had a company that deals with used fire apparatus make us an offer, and we sold it to offset the cost of the new tanker,” he said. “Basically, those funds went back into the truck reserve account.”

He indicated that the WVFD’s Engine 41 will soon be 20 years old and ready for replacement.

“So we’re going to repurpose those funds to help offset the cost of what the county puts in to get a new engine,” he said.

Bernacki made a point to thank the public for its contributions to the WVFD’s pork barbecue fundraiser.

“We appreciate their support and enabling us to get that (new tanker) to make our job easier to help them,” he said.