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Putting Out Fires

By Reagin von Lehe for The Island Eye News

After months of issues connected with the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Isle of Palms was finally able to purchase a new 75-foot ladder truck and send a 17-year-old truck to Ocala, Florida, to be refurbished.

While the 95-foot truck is being reconditioned by E-ONE, the newly built and polished cherry red vehicle is in the hands of the Fire Department but couldn’t be put into service right away. Sharing her frustration, Fire Chief Ann Graham explained why.

“It took us several months to put [the new fire truck] in service because of COVID,” Graham said. “We could not do the training.”

The replacement for the previous truck cost $849,000. However, an inspection determined that the 95-footer was still usable. Changes currently being made include a new paint job and new electrical and hydraulic systems. With the upgrades, the truck will be highly functional for another 10 to 15 years, Graham said.

Avoiding the purchase of two new trucks is saving the city at least $600,000, and the department will benefit greatly from more functional systems when responding to emergencies.

“We did have long conversations with E-ONE prior to building this truck,” Graham said. “We’ve had problems in the past where water got into places it shouldn’t have gotten into in the older truck. So there was a special design to elevate electrical components to keep them from getting wet during certain flood conditions.”

Mayor Jimmy Carroll clarified that city officials plan years in advance for equipment updates and replacements. He said repairing equipment is less expensive than purchasing it new. Instead of spending possibly millions of dollars on another replacement truck, it’s only costing the city around $600,000 for remodeling.

He added that Mount Pleasant and the islands have mutual aid agreements to ensure full response to emergencies.

Carroll made sure to mention his opinion of Isle of Palms’ Fire Department and its contribution to the island’s success.

“They’re our boots-on-the-ground folks, and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Carroll said.

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