CRESTVIEW — North Okaloosa Fire District firefighters swarmed over the agency's newest fire truck Wednesday afternoon.
Escorted by Chief Ed Cutler, the class A category pumper glided to the runway bay doors, where about 10 firefighters waited.
As soon as the fire engine was offloaded from the flatbed trailer on which it traveled from Deep South Fire Trucks in Collins, Miss., the men surged forward.
"It's nice. It's real nice," firefighter Ray Clemens said as he opened an equipment hatch. "Camera phones are getting lots of use today."
The truck cost $92,000, district commissioner Craig Shaw said. When new, the truck was valued between $250,000 and $300,000.
NOFD funded a capital account with $50,000 a year over the last two years to pay for it, Shaw said. The account’s balance will help equip the vehicle.
"We've been working hard to save money and we paid cash," Shaw said. "There is no debt."
The truck has fewer than 9,000 original miles on it, with fewer than 700 total service hours. Through negotiations with Deep South Fire Trucks, NOFD received $5,000 worth of equipment enhancements, including a water cannon and a front extended bumper with a hose hook-up.
The 1996 apparatus was "as new as used can be new," Shaw said, noting that most used fire trucks are worn out and cost the agency that buys them more in repairs than they paid for the truck.
Deputy Chief Danny Worrells said he and his firefighters liked the top-mounted pump controls that allow the operator to survey a fire scene and respond accordingly. Some fire trucks have side-mounted controls, meaning the truck’s body can obstruct the operator's view of the scene.
For now, the new fire engine will remain at the airport station while firefighters train on it. Its acquisition will help the district meet community fire-safety standards by having a fire truck at each of NOFD's stations, including the John King Road, Milligan and Auburn Road stations, and a truck in reserve.
"It gives us the ability to pull a truck out of service and make repairs and do things right," Cutler said, noting without that flexibility, repairs sometimes must be rushed to hurry a truck back into service.
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Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.