Friday Harbor Fire Department's newest fire truck arrives Thursday

Top photo: Friday Harbor
Top photo: Friday Harbor's new fire engine being inspected at the manufacturer. Middle photo: Friday Harbor's new fire engine before embarking on its cross-country trip from Ocala, Fla., to Everett, Wash. Bottom photo: Friday Harbor Firefighter John Miller behind the wheel.
— image credit: Friday Harbor Fire Department

The Friday Harbor Fire Department will mark the arrival of the department's latest fire engine Thursday afternoon.

The unit, built by E-One Fire Apparatus in Ocala, Fla., replaces a 1988 engine that was removed from service in 2008, following failure of the fire pump.

According to department Deputy Chief Tom Eades, the new engine marks a significant upgrade in firefighting capability.

"It's the first compressed air foam pumper we've ever had. The foam decreases the amount of water needed to extinguish a fire and makes for a quicker knockdown in enclosed spaces. A ground-based foam loading system and a remotely controlled deck gun enhance firefighter safety by reducing the need to climb onto the apparatus."

A crew of town firefighters drove the engine cross-country from the E-One plant to United Fire Service in Everett for installation of radios, lettering and striping. The trip took five days, with crew and engine arriving in Everett on June 16.

Although the engine will make an appearance in this year's Fourth of July Parade, it will take several more weeks of preparation before it is fully in service, with department personnel undergoing compressed air foam training, hose being loaded, and the full complement of response equipment being installed.

The truck, is expected to arrive on either the 4:05 or the 6:10 p.m. ferry Thursday.

This engine, known as Engine 11, cost $530,105 before taxes. "The average cost is from $350,000 to $400,000. That's for a lower- to middle-of-the-road engine," Eades said. "This is a top-of-the-line engine. It's going to last us 20 years and provide us good service."

There are other factors that contributed to the cost. The Friday Harbor Fire Station was built in 1985 to accommodate medium-duty chassis that were standard at the time. But the size of the engine's cab evolved to accommodate changes in safety requirements. All personnel are required to ride buckled inside the cab. As a result, most trucks are 32 feet long — too long for the town station. Engine 11 had to be specially made.

"This rig is 29 feet, which provides 3 feet of walking space while it's sitting in the bay," Eades said. "The advantage to that size is its increased maneuverability, which is important in the downtown core where it's tight. The need for it has been proven."

Other vehicles in the Friday Harbor Fire Department fleet:

— Engine 7, a 1999 pumper truck with an aerial device.

— Engine 6, a 1978 Seagrave fire engine purchased from Oak Harbor. It has only 5,000 miles on it. It was purchased to replace Engine 6 and will be on reserve duty.

— Engine 5, a 1987 Van Pelt purchased from the City of Tucson, Ariz. It has 136,000 miles on it and will be retired when Engine 11 is in service. It has been replaced by Engine 6 as the reserve engine.

— Support 1, a medium rescue truck bought used from the City of Kirkland.

— Confidence fire boat.

— Friday Harbor 1, the chief's car, a former patrol car purchased for $2,000 from Jefferson County Fire District 2.

— Friday Harbor 2, the deputy chief's SUV.

— Battalion 1, a Ford Explorer driven by the designated duty captain.

The fire department also owns a 1923 Cadillac fire engine purchased by the department in 1941 from the City of Mount Vernon for $128. The fully restored engine is now valued at more than $1 million.

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