Fire damages heavy rescue vehicle at Paola fire station

Paola firefighters didn’t have to go far to respond to a fire call that came in at about 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 5.

In fact, it was a Paola firefighter who made the call after realizing that the front cab of the department’s heavy rescue truck was on fire.

Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Hartig said the vehicle was pulled out of the bay earlier in the day and parked outside the station while firefighters performed standard maintenance. When a couple of firefighters went to drive the vehicle back inside, they discovered flames coming out of the dash area.

Hartig said he is proud of his firefighters who worked quickly to call in the fire and put out the flames using a fire extinguisher. If left unchecked for a few more seconds, Hartig said the flames likely would have burst through the front windshield and spread to the exterior of the vehicle.

Despite their quick work, the flames charred the front dash, and smoke heavily damaged the rest of the vehicle.

Some of the equipment lost in the fire includes a thermal imager valued at about $10,000 and a new 800 MHz radio system also valued at about $10,000. The radio system was installed in the vehicle about two weeks before the fire.

Hartig said the fire appears to be electrical in origin, but an exact cause has not yet been determined. Firefighters quickly sealed off the vehicle’s front cab with caution tape so the scene could be investigated by officials from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

City leaders told members of the Paola City Council, during a work session March 5, that the city’s insurance company EMC also plans to have an electrical engineer investigate the scene.

Meanwhile, Hartig and his fellow firefighters were left with the difficult task of trying to find a way to replace a vehicle that goes on nearly every fire call that comes into the station.

Luckily, Hartig said, less than a week earlier Miami County Fire District No. 1’s new Engine 5 arrived from Ohio, and fire district officials agreed to allow Paola firefighters to transfer over equipment and turn the engine into a temporary heavy rescue vehicle.

The equipment includes extrication tools, air cascade system for filling bottles, and confined space equipment, among others, Hartig said.

Because the engine also still features a water system and hoses, Hartig is calling it a rescue pumper.

Hartig said the damaged heavy rescue truck cost the city about $265,000 when it was purchased in 2007, and city officials said during the work session that it just had been paid off.

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