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Rillton Volunteer Fire Department sports new ladder truck

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 7:25 p.m.
Members of the Rillton Volunteer Fire Department show off their new ladder truck procured in April 2013.

Rillton fire Chief Paul Rupnik Sr., was impressed that the 1999 Pierce Telesquirt fire truck the department purchased was like brand new—so much so, even the ladder rungs showed no wear.

The truck is the first of its kind to be owned by a Sewickley Township department and may make work safer for firefighters as well as lead to a better safety rating for the township.

The medic rescue engine has the capabilities to reach up to five stories with its ladder, and includes pumper and other aerial equipment.

“It'd cover just about anything we have in our area,” Rupnik said.

The fire department had planned to buy a truck of this kind ever since the fire department was rebuilt 15 years ago, he said.

It was purchased from the Santee Fire Department north of San Diego, a paid fire department that regularly replaces trucks no matter the condition, Rupnik said.

The trucks sell for about $300,000 to $400,000 new and the company was asking for $80,000, he said.

“They had it listed for 80 (thousand); we got them down to 65 (thousand),” Rupnik said. “We were very pleased.”

The department used allotted 2012 emergency services tax money to make a down payment, then took out a second mortgage on the fire hall and garage to pay the remainder, he said.

In addition, Rillton will make a request for a contribution from the 2014 emergency services tax money and possible seek some state grants, Rupnik said.

Assistant Chief Tim Luft said the truck will help keep firefighters safer, since the ladder can be positioned near roofs as an emergency exit for attic and chimney fires.

“It will go on every call,” he said. “Every fire that we go to, that's going to help us.”

The 32-foot long truck can pump water at 1,500 gallons per minute and also has a 30-gallon cell for foam, which is sometimes used to fight fires quicker than water, Rupnik said.

Firefighters and township officials were invited to a demonstration of the truck's capabilities on April 25.

Supervisor Alan Fossi said the township's ISO rating, which is a measurement of international standards, is assessed every two to three years and ranked from 1 to 10, depending on certain risk factors.

“We're very fortunate to have all the fire companies in the township do an excellent job,” said Fossi, who works as a commercial insurance producer with Rupp & Fiore Insurance Management based in Robinson.

Sewickley Township's rating stands at six now, and “we're hoping that having a ladder truck knocks us down one number to a five, but we don't have any control over that,” he said.

Fossi said after he spoke with two insurance companies, however, that premiums are impacted more when the rating drops to a four.But having the ladder truck in the township is a welcome resource, he said.

“That's another asset we have now,” Fossi said. “You never know when one of these things can change a life.”

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 724-836-6660.