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Greensburg's VFD scales new heights

| Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, 7:53 p.m.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
John Solochier, a member of the City of Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department, demonstrates the reach limits of the city's new tiller ladder truck at the Greensburg Public Works building on Wednesday, September 25, 2013.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Rick Hoyle, assistant chief of the City of Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department, works with the city's new tiller Ladder Truck at the Greensburg Public Works building on Wednesday, September 25, 2013.

Greensburg's new $1 million aerial fire truck has arrived, complete with all the bells and whistles that any firefighter could want.

“It's beautiful,” Greensburg Assistant fire Chief Rick Hoyle said.

Hoyle and six other members of the Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department traveled to Snyder, Neb., last month to oversee final preparations before the Smeal Apparatus Co. ladder truck traveled to Greensburg.

The engine replaces a 1988 truck that no longer meets certification standards, city officials said.

“It's outlived its usefulness, and it's been a mechanical challenge keeping it useful,” Hoyle said of the old truck.

The new engine brings the latest safety features to the Greensburg department, he said.

“It's 25 years newer,” Hoyle said. “There's a lot of safety features on it that weren't on the old one.”

The air-conditioned vehicle has an enclosed area for crew members.

Two drivers are needed to maneuver the new truck. One driver steers the tractor and the other, called a tillerman, sits near the rear of the vehicle and guides it as it rounds narrow corners.

“It's ideal for an older community with narrow streets, such as Greensburg,” Hoyle said.

Drivers took a three-day training course last month.

Greensburg needs the ladder truck because of the height of some buildings, city fire Chief J. Edward Hutchinson explained.

He called the truck “beautiful,” but added that he views it as a “tool to use to save a life or a building.”

The 1988 truck cost the city $225,000 and was three or four years old when purchased from Pittsburgh, Hutchinson noted.

Greensburg fire and city officials began discussing the purchase of the new truck more than two years ago.

City council paid $975,747 for the fire truck from the Fire Department Equipment Fund, city fiscal director Mary Perez said. The money comes from proceeds raised through the Hutchinson Garage.

Greensburg Hose No. 2 paid another $23,120 for changes members wanted, she said.

The truck will be stationed at Hose No. 2 on North Pennsylvania Avenue.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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