New truck equals safer Alpena Township

ALPENA – Alpena Township Fire Department has a new fire truck, and Capt. Ken Piper said it will make a big difference in safety and efficiency. The new truck was built by Smeal, an apparatus and truck building company, and was customized to suggestions from different departments to maximize efficiency.

“There are major differences with the new truck compared to the old engine two,” Piper said. “The last one was a commercial truck, with a commerical chassis. The new truck is built to only be a fire truck. It’s set up a bit lower to the ground and with safety, reliablility and maintainability features.”

The old engine two had been in service at the south side department for 18 years, and went through extensive work and maintenance to keep it functioning. In order to make the new truck fully functional, the department took all of the equipment off the old engine two, and will be transfering everything to specific places on the new truck.

“This truck has a lot of new technology,” Piper said. “There’s a back-up camera, camera for the right side, auto throttle control for the pump, and it’s a lot cleaner truck based on the systems in it. This truck has diagnostics through a computer on the dash and sensors for the doors and seats. There is a lot of safety improvements.”

The new truck comes with a few features already installed like ladders, sirens and safety features, and is designed to carry four firefighters. Some small features included to increase efficiency are easy access pull out drawers, sliding doors, and safer access to ladders and equipment at the touch of a latch button. The truck also has a mid-ship pump, allowing the person running the pump levers to see 360 degrees around the truck and safely keep an eye on the firefighters.

Piper said the department is excited to have the new truck and ready to become aquainted with it.

“We’ll do some practice runs and aquaintenance with the truck while we’re getting it ready,” Piper said. “It should be in service and up and running in about a week.”

The need for the new truck is partly because of the old enging two’s maintenance costs, and because of the increase in calls over the last seven to 10 years, Piper said.

“It’s quite an accomplishment when you look at what we’ve done,” he said. “We went from a few hundred runs seven years ago, to already being at 1,300 runs so far this year. We expect to surpass 1,500 runs by the end of the year.”

Piper said the little improvements make a big difference when time and safety are concerned, and that even with the new truck, the bottom line doesn’t change.

“We have an old saying that still applies, ‘put the wet stuff on the red stuff,'” he said. “This new truck with the new creature comforts will just help us do that more efficiently and safer.”

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.