On Dec. 11, 2013, Ripon’s aerial ladder truck got the workout of its lifetime as it helped douse the Watson Street blaze.

That fire was its last.

After 32 years knocking down flames around the Ripon area, firefighters with the Ripon Area Fire District (RAFD) found a costly new problem with the unit: it’s hydraulics were shot.

“The [Watson Street] fire was the last hurrah for it ... It saw its last job and it performed awesome,” RAFD chief Tim Saul said.

“Basically, [the old truck] was worn out,” said Dennis Miller, a firefighter for the RAFD and an alderman for the city of Ripon. “At 32 years old, things were starting to go wrong with it. It was time.”

Fortunately, a new truck was on its way.

A few weeks ago, the RAFD received a new ladder truck from Pierce Manufacturing in Appleton.

Though more or less a “stock” truck off the line at Pierce, this new unit has so many new safety features that firefighters hardly have been allowed to touch the truck until they’ve been through a multi-week training program.

“It’s a huge, huge advantage for rescuing people ...,” Saul said of the new unit. “This is a truck that ... suits our needs and then some.

“With this truck, residents are safer, firefighters are safer. With this truck, we are giving residents the best chance to survive. If we save just one person with this truck, it’s paid for itself.”

Read the full story in the May 1, 2014 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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