Members of the Vinton Fire Department have been busier than usual over the past few months as they worked to update their vehicle fleet.

First, the VFD received an offer from the federal government for a free fire truck. But while driving that truck from Ohio to Vinton, its engine blew. Estimates to replace that engine topped $30,000. Deciding that cost was prohibitive, and that it would be impossible to find out whether or how well the other features of that truck worked without the engine, VFD leaders then resumed the search.

They recently found what they are looking for in Biloxi, Mississippi.

The 1996 aerial platform truck will replace the aerial ladder truck the VFD purchased in 2009. Once the new truck is in service, the VFD will try to sell the aerial truck to another department.

The new truck’s platform is about the same height as the ladder, 110 feet. But the platform offers some versatility that the aerial truck did not. The aerial ladder can only be operated from the back of the truck; firefighters, however, can control the height and placement of the platform with controls mounted on it. Also, the platform has two independent nozzles, one of which can be controlled remotely.

Several firefighters saw the truck for the first time Thursday, after its arrival via flatbed truck. They took turns experimenting with the platform controls.

Fire Chief Gary McKenna says the department will soon conduct some training to help firefighters become more familiar with the platform and its features.

The huge fire that destroyed the American Legion Post 57 building in 2005 required the use of an aerial truck from Hiawatha to keep the flames from spreading to other connected buildings. The department started looking for aerial trucks, and purchased its current aerial ladder truck in 2009. The VFD’s aerial truck played big role in a keeping a downtown Van Horne fire in 2012. (See that story HERE.)

See more photos of the platform truck HERE.