Sunday, October 10, 2010



Members of the Washington Island Fire Department and Rescue Squad sponsored an open house Saturday with equipment on display, educational activities for children, and a great lunch that is also a fund-raiser.

A more perfect day couldn't have been picked, and the food was terrific (sold out, we heard - not a surprise, with Mann's Store brats done to perfection).

I visited with Lou Small who offered information on a ladder truck being considered by the Island's Fire Department, that is currently owned by the Sister Bay-Liberty Grove Fire Department.  The truck is a 1985 model, GM-diesel, automatic transmission with under 1500 total hours and, as might be expected, very low mileage.   It appears to have been very well maintained during its years in Sister Bay.  The price at which it is being offered to Washington Island:  $45,000 with all equipment onboard.  This is an opportunity to obtain a well-equipped fire truck, in excellent condition at a terrific price.   (A new 'loaded' pickup truck comes close to that in price.)

Why a ladder truck on Washington Island, I asked?  

It seems, at first, an unnecessary, extra piece of gear that might have little potential use here.  Then Lou reminded me of all of the new buildings that have gone up in the past 20 years, a good share of them with metal roofs, and he pointed to a photo of an East Side home, two-stories with its metal roof edges nearly 20 feet above the ground.

I'm not a member of the Island Fire Department, and I am as skeptical as anyone when it comes to adding to a fleet of trucks when I don't fully understand their specific purpose and potential.  However, the need for this truck seems clear:  there is no safe way to climb onto a metal roof or to work from one, given the thin support beneath and the slippery surface, especially when wet.  I can also easily see the benefit of shooting a stream of water under high pressure from the end of the ladder, a point well above rather than below the peak of such a building.

When it comes to training, staying current on fire fighting techniques and maintaining the safety equipment this Town owns, the men and women of the Island Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad do us a great favor by giving of their time, energy, and potentially, their life and limb.  The ladder truck is a unique piece of equipment right for the job, and it should make each firefighter (and home and business owner) more confident than ever that we have a chance to save buildings and lives with such a truck.

I think of the days (not too long ago) before we had a "man-lift" at the ferry dock, and how impossible it was then to replace street lights, clean or paint in hard-to-get places, or service the uppermost parts of a ferry.  We now take such a specialized piece of equipment for granted and would not consider lugging bundles of shingles or pieces of plywood up 14-foot ladders, or setting a ladder against a bobbing ferry, when other, safer means are available.

I urge the Town Board to pass approval for this truck when they deliberate on the new budget.  This is a rare opportunity to improve the safety of the community and to back the volunteers who willingly train, outfit, and remain vigilant on our behalf.

  - Dick Purinton
PS -  Below is a shot (taken before I dropped my camera on the pavement) showing Maggie Schmidt and Aidan and Magnus Purinton on one of the firetrucks.   There were many such opportunities for children (and adults) to learn about fire fighting.

1 comment:

CLK Rotary Club said...

Our fire department claims it "saves basements." That's pretty close accurate.

Capt. Don Sr.