RED BANK FIREFIGHTERS DOWN TWO TRUCKS

Members of the Navesink Hook & Ladder recently tested a surplus tower truck from Middletown for fit in their Mechanic Street firehouse as a potential loaner. See video at redbankgreen‘s YouTube channel or on Facebook to see how that went. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Already handicapped by the failure of its aerial ladder truck, Red Bank’s volunteer fire department is now facing an interim during which it will also be without its sole tower truck, redbankgreen has learned.

The 11-year-old tower – a vehicle with an 93-foot extendable platform from which firefighters can train water onto a fire from overhead – is due for maintenance that could take it out of service for a week or more, says borough Administrator and Fire Marshal Stanley Sickels.

The outage means that the borough would have to rely on mutual aid from Middletown in the event of a hard-to-reach fire, with possibly delayed response times, for both tower and ladder service, said Sickels.

“And in a fire, ever second counts,” Sickels said.

Middletown’s ladder truck couldn’t enter or leave the Hook & Ladder house without use of the parking area across the street. (Click to enlarge)

Both the ladder and the tower are housed at the Navesink Hook & Ladder house on Mechanic Street.

The 100-foot ladder, built in 1987, experienced a cable failure during routine testing in October. Replacement parts are no longer available,  officials said, and a custom repair would cost more than the truck itself is worth. The vehicle is also no longer compliant with OSHA and firefighting safety standards, they said.

The borough council last month introduced a $1.1 million bonding ordinance to pay for a new ladder truck. The existing one remains useful as a carrier of firefighters and equipment, including a 50-foot ground ladder that takes six firefighters to raise, fire department officials said.

With the ladder on limited duty, officials have tried, without success, to get their hands on a suitable replacement for the tower when it goes in for service to P&L Emergency Services in Wall Township.

A surplus truck that’s bound for sale by Middletown Fire Company No. 1 was tried out for fit two weeks ago. But firefighters found they could not get the large vehicle into and out of the house without using the small parking area of the proposed Char restaurant on the opposite side of Mechanic street.

“I know it took us quite a few tries to get it in there,” said John Drucker, president of the Middletown house and a Red Bank fire inspector.

The truck’s 48-foot length, with a large bucket protruding off the back end, made it an iffy proposition for navigating borough streets, Sickels said.

The town has also reached out to New York City in search of spare trucks, without success, he said.

Sickels said he’s been talking to P&L about getting in replacement parts for the tower before it goes in for service “so its not just sitting there. But you never know what they might find when they get it up on the lift.”

Fire Chief Josh Sanders couldn’t be reached for comment.