The Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department’s new tanker truck can do more than just carry water. The vehicle carries enough optional equipment for fighting fires, and it can even carry drinking water — a feature that will be much needed if another storm like Katrina blows through Copiah County.
The 2008 Freightliner Water Master vacuum tanker built by Southern Fire Equipment has a 3500 gallon aluminum tank. Because the tank is aluminum and the valves are lubricated with vegetable oil, the tanker can carry potable (drinking) water, explains Alan Faler, chief of Georgetown VFD. The manufacturer delivered the tanker a few days early, just before Hurricane Gustav, so the town could take advantage of this feature if needed.
The tanker also has a 3500 gallon portable tank that’s on an electric fold-down support, for use in shuttling water to fire scenes.
“We should get at least 20 years of use out of it,” said Faler. “The tank will never wear out, being aluminum.”
Georgetown VFD received a grant through Firefighters Assistance from the Department of Homeland Security to pay for the new tanker. A 5 percent match was required, which county provided by applying for a state grant. The tanker cost about $236,000.
The new tanker replaces a 5000 gallon tractor trailer rig that was 30 years old.
“It can do more than just supply water to another fire department — or ourselves,” said Faler. “We can actually fight fire from this truck. It has a 500 gpm fire pump on it, 400 feet of inch and a half attack line, and all NFPA ladders which you usually don’t have on a tanker.”
The tanker also has storage compartments for 2 scba’s as well as four holding compartments for extra scba bottles, and two pike poles. The operator can control all valves from inside the truck, which will make it an extremely useful vehicle when personnel is in short supply.
“If we’re shorthanded, I definitely want to go in this truck,” said Faler, “it’s got hose, ladders and pretty much everything needed on an engine.”
A training class is scheduled this Saturday to teach the Georgetown VFD members how to use the new tanker’s features.
Bethel Volunteer Fire Department is anticipating the arrival of a new tanker truck similar to Georgetown’s. The Bethel truck may arrive next week.
Copiah County’s volunteer fire departments are always looking for volunteers. Georgetown residents interested in joining the fire department should call Chief Alan Faler, 601-858-2288.