Boyle buys four new fire trucks

October 29, 2003|GARY MOYERS

James "Bud" Sexton, Boyle County fire chief, points to new equipment for the department with pride.

"We have to keep up with changing equipment," he said. "We're always updating air packs, batteries, radios, all of our equipment gets better each year. You have to keep up with the changes, and that includes the big items as well."

Sexton, chief of the department since 1996, said his department just received seven thermal imaging cameras, one for each county fire station, and will soon take delivery of a new engine and three tankers.

"The new engine cost $200,000 and should be delivered around the first of December," he said. "The three new tankers are $90,000 apiece and they're coming around the first of the year. The trucks are custom ordered, with the local department specifying what it wants on each truck, then they are built to order."


The engine will be used at the Parksville station, while the tankers will go to Parksville, Mitchellsburg and Forkland. Sexton hopes the department can purchase another engine next year, to "keep the replacement cycle going."

The new equipment is part of what Sexton calls a "never-ending" quest to standardize equipment for all seven Boyle County engine companies.

"That way, if a volunteer from Forkland is in town, for whatever reason, and we have a fire out at Old Bridge, he can jump right in and work with that group because the equipment is the same he's been trained on. It's familiar to him. That can be a big, big help in an emergency situation."

Sexton said standardization hasn't always been the case in Boyle County.

"It used to be different at each engine company," he said. "We had different kinds of trucks, different air packs, different radios - firefighters from one company were not trained on the equipment used at another company. We couldn't use parts from one place to fix broken equipment at another place, because they were different makes and models. Our standardization has helped with that."

Sexton said the new engine and tankers are part of an ongoing process to keep modern equipment in use while maximizing the value of used equipment.

"We're doing pretty well on equipment, but it's a never-ending process to keep up," he said. "The trucks we're replacing are 12 years old, and that's about as long as you can keep them if you want to get something out of them when you sell. They don't have that much mileage on them, but after a period of time, they're not up-to-date as far as technology is concerned. If you sell a truck 10-12 years old, you get maybe $50,000 back on it. Any older than that, you're taking a chance."

Thermal imaging cameras, which detect changes in temperature and translate that to a visual key, are the latest "must-have" equipment for fire departments, Sexton said.

"They pick up heat sources, which makes them valuable not only for determining hots spots in fires that might be hidden in a building, but also for finding people," he said. Sexton said the cameras have a range of from 600-to-800 feet, strictly by line of sight, and work by detecting changes in the amount of heat generated in the scanning area.

Sexton, who said he spends most of his working day on the road in the county, traveling among the seven companies, is in charge of about 100 firefighters. He is responsible for maintaining the county's firefighting equipment, as well as overseeing training and certification.

"Most of my time is spent keeping up with the training and paperwork," he said. "We have to order parts, get service on the vehicles, work with insurance companies. I probably put 100,000 miles on my pickup in a year's time, and never leave Boyle County. All that driving is spent going to the engine companies and keeping up with the work."

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