Engine No. 19 hits the road

By Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 11/14/18

ORANGE PARK – The Orange Park Fire Department commissioned its newest fire truck, Engine 19, into service during an event at the town’s fire station last Friday.

Many of the town’s leaders, …

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Engine No. 19 hits the road

Posted

ORANGE PARK – The Orange Park Fire Department commissioned its newest fire truck, Engine 19, into service during an event at the town’s fire station last Friday.

Many of the town’s leaders, current and former firefighters, and county commissioners watched the truck be ceremoniously placed into service for the Town of Orange Park. While the station had already grown quite familiar with the truck after receiving it Oct. 1, this event marked the first time many had seen it.

And although the truck was delivered in early October its history goes back more than six years on the Orange Park timeline.

“As with many government projects, this took a long time,” Town Manager Sarah Campbell said. “Six years and seven months to be exact...but it’s finally here.”

In April 2012, the town’s previous Fire Chief, Ty Silcox, who retired in 2015, proposed buying a new fire engine to then-town manager Cindy Hall at a cost of $400,000. After Town Council adopted the purchase of the truck in June 2012, the truck was added to the Capital Improvement Plan for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

But, in 2014, other capital needs took precedent and the purchase was delayed until the 2017-18 fiscal year.

“It kept its place in the Capital Plan after that and was fully funded by the Town Council in $475,000 on September 17, 2017,” Campbell said during the event. “The council then approved the contract to purchase the truck on October 17, 2017.”

Campbell remembered signing the purchase order for the truck the next day, on October 18, 2017, still one of – if not the biggest – purchase orders she has ever signed. She also remembered bugging Fire Chief Alvin Barker, about it for nearly 11 months straight, only to be reminded that buying a fire truck is a lengthy process.

Barker said that early this past spring, the truck had made its way to the production line, which meant it was only months away from being parked in Orange Park. That day finally came Oct. 1.

According to Barker, this truck, which will be replacing Engine 192, serves as not only a service vehicle that will protect the lives of citizens in Orange Park, but as a memorial for the 343 firefighters that died on 9/11.

“There were 343 firefighters that gave their life protecting the citizens that day [9/11] that they swore to protect,” Barker said. “We were expecting this truck on 9/11, and because of that, we decided that we would memorialize those men and women that gave it all.”

The truck didn’t arrive on 9/11, but with graphics on the side and a larger graphic on the back, it still serves as a way to remember the 343. That’s not the only thing special about this truck, though.

To combat the risk of cancer that firefighters face on the job, the truck is outfitted with special compartments that will conceal firefighting equipment, such as helmets and jackets that can output harmful gas hours after their use. These gases and toxins increase the risk of cancer in firefighters, but Engine 19’s concealed compartments will trap and safely dispose of the toxins, offgas and more.

While ideally, nobody gets to see a fire truck up close except firefighters and perhaps children on field trips, but given the day came an Orange Park citizen needs help, Engine 19 is ready for action.

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