Monday, February 26, 2024

Fire Department Gets a Vital Upgrade

After a severe car crash, time and efficiency are of the essence. Instead of pulling the victim out of their car and risking further injury, first responders must remove the vehicle from around the victim, a technique called vehicle extrication. 

In the past, vehicle extrication has been performed by the Blairstown Ambulance Corp. To save time and allow paramedics to focus solely on patient care, the fire department took on that responsibility and began looking for a rescue truck. Last year they hit the jackpot.  

After a six-year search, firefighter Patrick Ceres stumbled across one for sale in Culpepper, Virginia. Advertised on a firehouse flea market website was a used truck in great condition, outfitted with $70,000 worth of essential equipment, all for a bargain of $40,000. It seemed too good to be true so Blairstown Hose Company #1’s Fire Chief, Mark Slater, went to check it out. 

“It was an incredible deal. So we gave them a check right then and there,” said Slater.  

The Blairstown Hose Company #1 paid $2,000 for the truck to be shipped from VA, making the total cost for this project $42,000. Funding for this rescue truck came from the fire department’s Capital Fund from the town with additional help from fundraising coffers. 

A conventional fire truck is used to transport firefighters to the scene along with necessary gear, hoses, and a water supply. A rescue truck is different and must be equipped with hydraulic tools that can cut and spread the metal of a car. 

Blairstown’s new rescue truck has all the gadgets to get the job done. The bumper opens to store equipment pre-piped to the hydraulic pumps inside the truck that works off the generator. 

“You can pull right up on a scene and go instantly to work,” said Slater. “Everything is up and ready to go to start cutting.” PHOTO 2

The compartments along the side of the truck are packed with typical rescue equipment like Stokes Baskets and backboard stretchers. The second set of hydraulic pumps, saws, hoses, electric reels and extinguishers can be found on the right side of the truck. PHOTO 1,3

All in-house maintenance, radio installation, electrical reconfiguration and equipment mounting was done by Thomas Czarnecki.

Along the left side, stabilization equipment is stored. The struts are Blairstown’s own, but all the cribbing, wooden planks used to create a temporary support structure for heavy objects, is new. 

Slater explained, “Since we got this [cribbing] we’ve been added to Alamuchy’s box alarm for Rt. 80. If they have a big incident on Rt. 80, this [truck] will go.”

To Chief Slater, the success this truck will bring to the fire department is all due to his team. “We did do really well, but it’s because of the people; because Patrick found it, because Tom worked on it, because everybody trained on it, that we’re able to put it in service. But without them, none of this happens.”

Photo of firetruck interior
Fire truck open door showing supplies

Alex Tironi Headshot
Alex Tironi, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

A recent graduate of George Mason University in Virginia, Alex pursued a degree in journalism with a double minor in American Sign Language and nonprofit studies. She worked as assistant news editor to the Fourth Estate, the university newspaper where she reported on many things but mostly focused on campus crime and PD activity. While working for a nonprofit called the Borgen Project, she wrote about global health and poverty in third-world nations. Alex recently finished an internship writing and editing for a business consulting company in NY. Growing up in the area, she has always been active in her community and brings the same intention as a contributing writer for the Ridge View Echo.