A new tiller fire truck is on the move in Puyallup.
The 2007 KME tractor-drawn aerial response vehicle is the first of its kind for Central Pierce Fire & Rescue.
Lt. Dannis Anderson said that the vehicle, which is equipped with a drawn trailer and 100-foot ladder, helps firefighters reach difficult areas in the city.
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“One of the unique things about a tractor-trailer rig is that they’re very universal and very easy to maneuver around in tight streets, especially in the cities like down here in Puyallup,” Anderson said.
As Puyallup continues to grow, mobility becomes even more important to fire departments. And as taller structures are built, such as apartments, firefighters need to be able to easily reach those spaces, said Capt. Brice Johnston.
“It’s the first time we’ve had to get something like this because we’re so impacted,” Johnston said. “The city is starting to grow up, not out. Because (the tiller) has the trailer, it’s more maneuverable. Maneuverability is really a prime reason to get the tiller.”
Because (the tiller truck) has the trailer, it’s more maneuverable. Maneuverability is really a prime reason to get the tiller.
Brice Johnston, Central Pierce Fire & Rescue captain
Roundabouts and apartment complexes are more difficult to navigate with Central Pierce’s current current fire engine, which is 17 years old — about seven years past its recommended replacement date.
“It’s still in service,” said Anderson. “But it’s time to build the motor and upgrade it … this (tiller) will go places our standard engine won’t go.”
The current fire engine will become a reserve rig after it’s upgraded.
Currently, 21 firefighters are being trained to drive the tiller, which requires two drivers — one in the front, and one in the back in the “tiller cage,” which steers the trailer in the right direction.
At 57 1/2 feet, the $150,000 tiller truck is longer than the department’s fire engine and has its own water pump. New tiller trucks go for about $1 million, with 12 to 18 months for delivery. By purchasing a used tiller truck, Central Pierce firefighters will get to train and use the vehicle. In the future, they hope to purchase a brand new one.
It will be stationed at Station 71 at 902 7th St. NW, Puyallup. The vehicle will respond to any calls the require a ladder in Puyallup and South Hill.