State College

Truck takes Alpha Fire Company to new heights

Video: Alpha Fire Company's new Pierce truck

Rusty Schreiner introduces Alpha Fire Company's new fire truck which cost more than one million dollars March 30, 2016. The truck is a Pierce Velocity 95-foot mid-mount tower ladder truck.
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Rusty Schreiner introduces Alpha Fire Company's new fire truck which cost more than one million dollars March 30, 2016. The truck is a Pierce Velocity 95-foot mid-mount tower ladder truck.

The Alpha Fire Company’s latest truck has a terrific view — and that new car smell.

Of course, the latter was difficult to pinpoint from approximately 95 feet above ground level, but that’s OK.

At that height, the senses tend to be affixed to the scenery and the baffling perception that the world below seems to have grown simultaneously bigger and smaller.

There’s also the sudden and almost overpowering urge to redecorate the Medlar Field parking lot with trampolines and pillow-top mattresses — but maybe that’s not everyone.

Alpha firefighters Brian Rohrbaugh and Forrest Rothrock, for instance, seemed totally nonplussed by the change in altitude. They are used to this, after all.

It’s not like you go down to the car lot.

Rusty Schreiner, assistant fire chief

The Alpha Fire Company has two other aerial firetrucks, each with a range of 75 feet and a tendency to experience turbulence during takeoff.

Wednesday’s ride was smooth, a fluid demonstration of the new rig in action and about as close to challenging gravity as one can get without wings.

“It’s great. It’s very smooth compared to the others,” Rohrbaugh said.

The truck was delivered about noon on Tuesday to the station at 400 W. Beaver Ave. in downtown State College. Its arrival was nearly a year in the making.

“It’s not like you go down to the car lot,” Rusty Schreiner, assistant fire chief, said.

Nope. You go to Appleton, Wis.

If we have to make numerous rescues, the people can walk through the platform and down the ladder.

Rusty Schreiner, assistant fire chief

Pierce Manufacturing, a company that makes custom fire and rescue apparatus, built what Schreiner calls a very versatile truck, the highlights of which include an approximately 95-foot reach and a much roomier basket that connects to a ladder.

Schreiner said that this was an important design consideration, one that provided the fire company with the ability to perform continuous rescues.

“If we have to make numerous rescues, the people can walk through the platform and down the ladder,” Schreiner said.

The basket has a 1,000-pound tip load and a monitor that provides a constant flow of information ranging from the temperature — not an altogether unimportant factor when fighting fires — to elevation.

Schreiner said that it will take at least 30 days for drivers and operators to be trained on how to use the new vehicle, so it won’t be deployed just yet.

All of the bells and whistles don’t detract from the truck’s most important function.

“It’s just another tool to help keep us safe,” Rothrock said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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