The Neligh Volunteer Fire Department’s fleet became a little stronger last night with the delivery of a new pumper tanker to replace a 40-year-old model.
Second Captain Ryan Lichtenberg said the department, which serves both the city and rural district, has officially replaced its 1975 Chevy tanker with a 2015 Fyr-Tek. The pumper tanker arrived in Neligh on Monday night, and firefighters have already trained with the new rig, which is now in service.
The new pumper tanker has a Freightliner chassis, holds 3,000 gallons of water and pumps 750 gallons per minute, Lichtenberg said. It also has a 180-degree swivel for dropping water into the drop tank.
“It has a lot more pumping capability, so if one of our other trucks go down, we’ll be able to use this as a backup,” Lichtenberg said. “When the doors go up, this one will be the first tanker out to that fire and it’ll bring more water than we could before. We're thankful to have this new truck.”
Lichtenberg, along with committee members Sam Funk, Ray Branstiter and Nate Soper, asked for input from other firefighters and visited other departments before creating the specifications for the new tanker.
The 2015 Fyr-Tek will carry 1,000 more gallons of water than the 1975 model, bringing Neligh’s total water capacity to over 10,200 gallons when all trucks are on scene.
Funk, who is third captain of the Neligh department, said they started creating the specifications in May 2014 and placed the order in November 2014. Funk said at the time, Smeal was not building tankers of this specification, although the company now builds them in Wisconsin.
“We wanted a company from Nebraska, so that limited it to two companies,” Funk said. “Fyr-Tek was able to meet our specifications for the best price. They’re a small company, but they do great work.”
Funk said besides having more water available, the truck offers safety features that keep the department compliant with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), including a vehicle data recording system that monitors the drivers.
“We have to meet certain standards for a fire apparatus,” Funk said. “The truck is set up like this for NFPA standards. That’s why we couldn’t just buy a fertilizer truck.”
Chad Sitorius, Fyr-Tek president, said his company has built a lot of tankers since they started in 1998 and was pleased with Neligh’s model.
“This tanker was custom built for Neligh, and it is one of the bigger trucks we build,” Sitorius said. “The truck is totally NFPA compliant and has all of safety features they requested.”
Lichtenberg said because the tanker pumps 750 gallons of water per minute, it is officially recognized as a pumper truck. That makes three pumpers on the Neligh fleet, which helps residents’ maintain a low Insurance Service Organization (ISO) rating.
ISO establishes the fire protection rating for the community on a scale of 1 to 9 with 1 being the best and is directly related to the insurance premiums paid by local residents and businesses. The City of Neligh has an ISO rating of 4.
“This will maintain our already low ISO level,” Lichtenberg said. “For a small community like Neligh to have an ISO rating of 4 is pretty good, compared to a community like North Platte that has a 4.”
Lichtenberg said equipment is just as important as having well-trained firefighters. He said firefighters are as reliant on equipment as they are each other.
“We have 45 great firemen, and this is a tight organization that works together well. When you have good equipment to work with, you work harder for each other,” he said. “We have good equipment because we have a supportive community. We really do appreciate all they do to keep us safe as we try to save their structures.”