The number on the back of the Mdewakanton Public Safety Department's new fire truck is "11," but it gets boasting rights as No. 1.
It's the first truck of its kind in the state - possibly the country - combining the capabilities of a fire engine, a ladder truck and emergency medical services into one vehicle, which the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community says should save money and quicken response times.
"I had an idea," said Greg Hayes, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community's director of public safety. "How about I take two fire engines, a ladder truck and ultimately some rescue services and put it all into this one rig?"
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The new truck, built by Pierce Manufacturing in Appleton, Wis., will be based near Mystic Lake Casino Hotel.
The diverse capabilities will allow the fire department to deploy a single truck rather than two fire engines and a ladder truck, Hayes said. It is also designed to cut the time it takes to maneuver the ladder and equipment on the truck.
"Its hydraulically driven pumps make it the fastest running fire truck in the fire system," Hayes said. "An old ladder truck would take five to seven minutes to set up; this one takes two."
The new truck also has a computer system that helps firefighters extend and angle its lighter-weight 107-foot ladder.
It also has a firefighting foam system that helps conserve the truck's onboard water supply.
The foam mixes with the water and the air makes it frothier, Hayes explained. "I go from flowing 200 gallons of water per minute out of a nozzle down to 66 gallons of water per minute," he said.
Hayes explained that with a 480-gallon tank and the foam, his department can fight a fire for up to 10 minutes without having to connect to a water supply. With just plain water, that tank would give them about two minutes.
The foam technology has been used to fight fires in suburban settings since the late 1990s, but, Hayes said, it does not have wider use because it's unfamiliar for some.
Hayes, who declined to reveal the cost of the new truck, said that speed is more important than ever in fire fighting. That's due in part to modern construction materials that may be more flammable than was true 25 years ago.
The medical equipment on the truck allows paramedics and emergency responders to stabilize patients, but the vehicle won't be used to move the injured.
The new truck is owned by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community but could show up in Prior Lake and Shakopee because of mutual aid agreements between the tribe and those cities.
Mdewakanton Public Safety has had the truck since late February, but it's not expected to hit the streets until late March, as the staff is still training on it, Hayes said.
Gabriel Sanchez is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.
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