New ladder truck adds key weapon to Vale Fire Department’s arsenal

VALE – When Vale Fire Chief Jess Tolman arrived at the house fire on Glenn Street last February, he realized he was going to need to utilize all the resources of his department to snuff out the blaze.
The fire, ignited in couch cushions, eventually destroyed the home and required more than 25 emergency service personnel from Oregon and Idaho.
Early on in the emergency, Tolman said firefighters needed to get water to the rear of the house and he deployed the department’s ladder truck.
“The ladder wasn’t long enough to extend over the back of the house to get the water where we needed it,” said Tolman.
Tolman’s department now won’t have to worry about such a shortcoming after the delivery of a 2022 Rosenbauer ladder truck last week.
“This is a great step into the future,” said Austin Findling, a Vale firefighter.
Tolman picked up the new truck in Spokane and drove it back to Vale where he said his 25 firefighters – including three that are fulltime and two seasonal workers – will begin to learn about the vehicle.
“We are looking at about a month before we are trained up to operate it,” said Tolman.
That training, said Tolman, will include lessons on how to deploy the ladder and learning the correct method to engage the water pumps. “How we pull the hoses off it, placement of the
The truck is a “game-changer,” said Tolman. “It will increase our ability to respond to certain situations and increase our capability to help Ontario and Nyssa.”
Vale partners with fire departments in Nyssa and Vale as part of a mutual aid pact.
The new ladder truck is the centerpiece of a long-term plan to upgrade the department’s equipment, partially funded through a hike in city utility bills.
The Vale City approved a lease agreement for the new truck and the first payment isn’t due until July 2023, said Todd Fuller, Vale city manager. The new vehicle will cost the city about $85,000 a year.
The new vehicle replaces the existing 37-year-old ladder truck. That truck, said city officials, is plagued by mechanical problems and safety issues.
Tolman said the new ladder, if placed at a 90-degree angle, extends nearly eight stories.
“It is the newest ladder in the eastern Oregon area,” said Tolman. “This truck will serve Vale for at least 30 years.”
Findling said the truck helps push his department into the modern era.
“It is amazing to step out of the 1980s. This will be an amazing change for the department,” said Findling.
Tolman said the new truck will also help reduce of fire insurance in the city.
Tom Vialpando, Vale mayor, said the addition of the truck is good for Vale.
“I think it is a great thing for not just our fire department personnel but for the city as a whole,” said Vialpando.
Vialpando said city elected officials are still discussing what to do with the old ladder truck. One idea would be to donate it to Ontario’s regional fire training center, he said.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

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