Milton Fire Department has put into service the newest addition to its fleet: Engine 85-3.
The $636,000 truck was custom built by Florida-based fire truck manufacturer Pierce Manufacturing and is what is known as a pumper truck. A better way to think of it, Fire Chief Johnny Hopkins said, is the truck is made to battle structural fires. Engine 85-3 will be replacing Engine 85-5, which was made in 2001 and is being taken out of service.
The truck is a little more than 9 feet high and about 34 feet long. The most notable feature on it is a rotating pressurized water cannon on top that can shoot water in any direction at a distance around 60 to 70 yards. The cannon can shoot 1,500 gallons of water per minute and has a reserve tank that can hold 1,000 gallons.
The truck was delivered to the department Aug. 8. Over the last month or so, officers have trained with it. On Sept. 11, firefighters worked on maneuvering the truck through some of the tightest areas in Milton, including the drive aisles at Milton Elementary School and through Cannery Village. The training then went to the vacant lot across from the fire hall on Front Street, where firefighters practiced the hookup for the water cannon.
Hopkins said the department has three main firefighting vehicles: a rescue truck, which is mainly used for life-saving uses, such as freeing people from car accidents; a ladder truck, which allows firefighters to scale heights; and a structural fire truck, which is used for battling building fires.
The truck was built to the department’s specifications. One of the big features is a low hose bed in the rear of the truck that will enable firefighters to quickly pull hoses out and hook them up. The department member who most closely worked with the manufacturer on the truck was Assistant Secretary Bailey Millman.
Millman said the truck has eight different hose hookups, including lines for hydrant hookup and hoses that are used for different kinds of fires. The water cannon is controlled by a computer panel on the side of the truck that can control the flow of the cannon. The 70-inch cab of the truck can seat six firefighters; Millman said the department could have gotten a truck with a 96-inch cab, but chose a smaller one to make the truck smaller and easier to maneuver.
“I wanted to make it the easiest I could for our firemen, just making it fireman-friendly and easy for our guys,” he said. “I’m stoked. I can’t wait to get it in service. It’s going to be good for Milton.”