Two-and-a-half years after an accident destroyed the fire department’s ladder truck, Rocky River last week received a new $1.2 million fire ladder truck. It should be in service by the end of July.
The new truck pulled into the fire station at 21012 Hilliard Blvd. on June 19. The 100-foot truck replaces one heavily damaged in January 2017 when a van crashed into it at the scene of a previous accident on Interstate 90. The van driver, Artem Vytiegov, 29, San Francisco, was killed. Cleveland police officer David Fahey, 39, also died after being hit by another car while lighting flares to mark off the scene.
Since then, Rocky River has relied on neighboring cities’ departments on mutual-aid calls.
“We can’t just put it out on the road,” said Rocky River Fire Chief Aaron Lenart, saying it will be a few weeks before the truck is in service. “We’re putting other equipment on it from the department and checking it out. We want to make sure everything is working the way it needs to. It’s got the proper safety equipment and rollover protection, so we’ve got to review everything on it as part of getting it ready.”
The ladder truck is designed to handle the stresses that come from operating at higher speeds when it has to get to a fire or accident scene quickly, he said. In addition, firefighters have to become familiar with it and how it works.
“It’s a new truck, so we want to make sure everybody knows how to use it and can handle what’s on it as quickly as possible on a call,” Lenart said. “We want to make sure everything and everybody is ready when we put it out into service.”
Rocky River firefighter David Haase drove the old truck to the accident scene the day it was hit. “It’s full circle in a lot of ways,” he said. “It’s good to know we’ve got a good engine truck that will be ready to go again when we need it.”
Bay Village Fire Chief Chris Lyons said other area departments are always willing to help each other, but he’s glad the department now has a replacement truck.
“It’s better for everybody in the area because it makes us all safer,” Lyons said. “If there’s a need for help for help in another city, we all try to help each other.”
Rocky River City Council President Jim Moran is also pleased that the new ladder truck has been delivered.
“I went down to Dayton and saw it while it was being built and saw there is a lot that goes into making it,” Moran said. “I think people will be pleased with it when they see it out there.”
When Rocky River officials were considering how to replace the old ladder truck, they debated getting a used, factory demonstration truck that would have cost less, Moran said.
The new truck has a lower center of gravity, making it harder for it to roll over. The equipment is easier to access on the new truck and the driver’s view is better, officials said.
“When you consider that we should have this for 20 years, you want to get something that should last as long as possible,” Moran said. “This one should last a long time.”
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