County officials and firefighters with Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services welcomed six new fire trucks Tuesday afternoon with a special ceremony at the county’s administrative center on Bluffs Parkway.
Fire Chief Tim Prather explained that the six engines had been ordered in March of 2019, but had only arrived in Cherokee County around a month ago, due to COVID-related delays. All six trucks came from E-One, a company Prather said the fire department has ordered fire engines from in the past.
During the ordering process, Prather said the department put together a truck specification committee comprised of fire department officials from virtually every level of the agency, as well as representatives from the county’s fleet maintenance department. This committee came up with all of the needed truck specifications that would best work for the county, with the county then putting out a request for bids based on all of the details agreed on by the committee.
When listing off some of the specifics about each truck, he said the engines hold 1,000 gallon water tanks, have pumps capable of handling 1,500 gallons per minute and are BLS (Basic Life Support) capable, meaning the trucks can do essentially everything an ambulance does, with the exception of transporting someone from the scene of an incident to the hospital.
Prather also explained that the fire department is looking to get into a rotation of new fire engines, where trucks will be on front-line service for 15 years, first at some of the county’s busiest stations, then to the quieter stations, before going into the reserve fleet for five years and then cycled out following its 20 years of service.
“This right here gets us closer to that goal,” he said, adding that, while there are a handful of engines currently in front-line service that are more than 15 years old, none of them are over 20.
In addition, Prather said, while total cost for the six new trucks came out to approximately $2.9 million, all of the cost came from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax money approved by voters, meaning no money from the department’s operations fund or any other potential source had to be used.
Following Prather, other county officials offered up additional comments regarding the fire department and its new trucks.
“We have been very proud of Cherokee County Fire and its firefighters,” Board of Commissioners Chair Harry Johnston said.
Commissioner Corey Ragsdale added, “It’s an honor to support you guys.”
Closing out the ceremony, the six trucks were driven back to the Fire Training Center in Holly Springs to continue the preparations for their being put into service. As the engines left the parking lot, Johnston, Ragsdale, Commissioner Ray Gunnin, Commissioner Steve West and County Manager Jerry Cooper all assisted in welcoming the new trucks to the county by giving them a ceremonial hose down. Assistant Fire Chief Eddie Robinson explained this tradition went back to the days of horse-drawn fire pumps, when the horses would be hosed down following a fire to cool them down from the heat of the fire and all the work involved in fighting the flames.