DFD adds powerful new truck to arsenal


By Samantha Lyles


Fire protection for Darlington residents and industries got a big shot in the arm last week as the Darlington Fire Department added a high-powered fire engine to its vehicle fleet. Originally in service with the Fire Department of Williston, Vt., the well-appointed 2001 KME truck would have cost $1.8 million to $2 million if purchased new. But with some interstate diplomacy and good old-fashioned haggling, Darlington Fire Department Chief Pat Cavanaugh managed to acquire it for just $135,000. “If we had to buy it new, we couldn’t afford it,” says Cavanaugh. “It was basically one of those deals where we talked to their department and they said, ‘We like you guys! We’re gonna hook y’all up.’ And they included a bunch of other stuff, like some tools, ladders and hoses.” Darlington firefighters retrieved the truck last week from New Haven, Conn., where it made a pit stop for modifications before hitting the road to its new South Carolina home. Cavanaugh says that just as the truck reached the Highway 52 and I-95 interchange, the odometer hit 20,000 miles. “This truck was not heavily used. It came from a small town up by Burlington and they hardly ever used it,” Cavanaugh says. “It’s like new. Everything was tested and it passed with flying colors. All we have to do is change the lettering.” The new vehicle’s more modest 10-foot, 8-inch height is a full foot shorter than the previous truck, which barely squeaked under the station bay doors. At 80,000 pounds, it is also significantly heavier and more stable than its predecessor, which tipped the scales at just 50,000 pounds. Perhaps most importantly, the vehicle sports a 95-foot platform – a full 20 feet taller than the previous vehicle – giving firefighters a big advantage when battling elevated or inaccessible blazes. “This will reach the top of the (Darlington County) Courthouse. It flows over 2,000 gallons per minute, versus the other one that maxed out at 1,200 to 1,500,” says Cavanaugh, noting that greater reach and higher water flow means better protection for local industrial sites. “This could come into play with the expansions at Georgia Pacific, and with the hemp processing operation at the oil mill, should something happen. Now we have the equipment to respond,” he says. Improved fire protection could also translate into insurance premium savings for local industries, as they’ll receive a more favorable ISO rating. Aesthetically, the truck is unique, with hand-painted gold accents and lettering. Firefighters lamented having to scrub away such beautiful work, but Cavanaugh says some of Williston’s decorations – like the gold fleur de lis and striping – will remain intact. Some fun details, like the firefighter Tasmanian Devil guarding the ladder platform, might also stick around. Once Johnny Deas and Signs Plus finish up the new lettering, the truck will formally be welcomed to the fleet, but Cavanaugh says the vehicle is fully loaded and good to go, in case it’s needed. “It’s ready right now,” he says. “This is a game changer for us.”

Author: Stephan Drew

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