Skip to main content

South Salt Lake Journal

New Engine 41 is on duty

Mar 16, 2020 02:47PM ● By Bill Hardesty

SSLFD’s new Engine 41. (Courtesy of Fire Chief Terry Addison)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

South Salt Lake City Fire Department recently took possession of a new Pierce Velocity Pumper.

“It takes about a year from ordering to getting your order,” Fire Chief Terry Addison of South Salt Lake Fire Department, explained.

The new pumper has impressive power. It can pump 2,000 gallons of water per minute and it carries 500 gallons of water. It has a Detroit Diesel DD13 engine providing 525 horsepower.

With all of that, Engine 41 has some unique designs too.

Smoke over fire

As part of Addison’s continuing effort to rebrand the fire department, Engine 41 sports a new color scheme called “smoke over fire.” The engine is two-tone. The lower part is a deeper red than traditional fire truck red and the top is black.

“When working with our partners, I want our fire trucks to look unique,” Addison said.

Addison brought back the gold leaf lettering which has been gone since 1996. Engine 41 also has a unique American flag painted on the grill. The design is called the “red thin line flag.” It is a black and white flag with a red line flowing through it. The flag pays respect to fallen firefighters.

Roto-Ray warning lights

The Roto-Ray warning lights are popular back East and have been around for over 65 years.

“We are the first fire department in Utah to equip a fire truck with the Roto-Ray warning lights and only two in the West,” Addison said.

Roto-Ray warning lights are three sealed beam lights that rotate at about 200 rpm. Think of it as a propeller with lights. Because of the spinning, the lights are seen in the left, right and rearview mirrors of cars as the truck approaches.

“As cars have become more soundproof and drivers are using EarPods, it has become more critical to catch their attention with lights and movement,” Addison said.

Clean cab design

Engine 41 has a clean cab design to reduce firefighter’s exposure to carcinogens.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “firefighters have a 9% increase in cancer diagnosis and a 14% increase in cancer-related deaths, compared to the general population in the U.S.”

The study goes on to report that for certain types of cancer, such as mesothelioma or esophageal cancer, the chance of getting cancer is much higher. In some cases, as high as two times the risk.

One suggestion why the risk is so high is that firefighters are exposed to carcinogens as they ride back to the firehouse because firefighting equipment, that is exposed to carcinogens during the fire, are stored in the cab. The clean cab design puts all equipment out of the cab.

Fiscal year 2021 request

Addison is starting to lay the groundwork for his 2021 fiscal year request to replace an old engine with a tiller truck. A tiller tuck gets its name from the fact that a firefighter sits at the end of the truck and uses a tiller to steer the rear end.

Fire trucks are replaced every 10 years. Engine 43 is scheduled to be replaced in FY 2021. The department’s ladder truck is scheduled for FY 2024. The plan is to equip the tiller with pumper capacity as well as a water tank.

While the replacement cost of a tiller truck — $1.5 million — is much higher than an engine — $700,000 — there are three significant advantages.

The most significant is maneuverability. The current ladder truck requires a 42-foot wall to wall turning radius. Because most of the truck swings on a fifth wheel, a tiller only needs 20 feet.

The chief provided two real examples how this difference plays out. The first was if the ladder truck was required to travel to the back of the parking lot of the Classic Ritz apartments to fight a fire. The only way out is to back up the unit around the building. The other example is to think of the many narrow roads found in SSL and the limited room to turn. Currently, the ladder unit might need to work around a turn. A tiller truck can make it the first time. When every second counts, watching a stuck fire truck isn’t comforting.

The next advantage is supporting current and future development in the city. South City is now being built on the old Granite Mill property. It will be the highest building in South Salt Lake. The current ladder only reaches 100 feet. A tiller truck will reach 110 feet and will be able to get closer.

The final advantage helps the pocketbooks of every SSL homeowner. A company called ISO (Insurance Services Office) create ratings for fire departments. Currently, SSLFD’s ISO is a 3, which is typical and good since the lower the number, the better.

The rating calculates how well equipped fire departments are to put out a fire in the community. The company provides an “ISO fire score” to homeowner’s insurance companies. The insurance companies use the score to set homeowner insurance rates.

The argument goes that if a tiller truck improves the SSLFD ISO rating, and Addison has been led to believe that it will, then homeowner insurance rates would decrease.