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Scappoose Fire gets ladder truck donation

Truck donated by Portland Fire & Rescue offers more capability, increased safety

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Firefighters test out a newly acquired ladder truck at the Scappoose Fire station in Scappoose. The truck was donated to the district by Portland Fire & Rescue.Jeff Pricher beamed as he hopped in the bucket and ascended 70 feet up in the air.

Pricher, a division chief with Scappoose Fire District, manned the controls from a bucket affixed to the district's newest fire apparatus — an aerial ladder truck.

The ladder truck was a donation from Portland Fire & Rescue, which replaced the truck with a newer vehicle.

“If we had to buy this truck new, it would probably cost anywhere from $850,000 to $1 million,” Pricher said, estimating the used truck's value to be somewhere around $150,000. SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Jeff Pricher, division chief with Scappoose Fire District, peers out over the city while in the bucket attached to the arm of a ladder truck 70 feet in the air.

It will add to the station's current inventory of 14 fire and ambulance vehicles. Staff at the station hope to have the truck in operation by June 1.

He's assisted by Erik Dietz and Paul Liebig, both firefighter-EMTs the district was able to hire with grant money.

The new truck will replace the current ladder truck at the fire station, allowing for greater lateral and vertical reach. There's also room for up to three people in the bucket — two more than the previous truck allowed.

Pricher points to other safety upgrades, like an enclosed cab for firefighters to ride in, and a more stable ascent while the boom is being extended to its full capacity.

For a small, rural district like Scappoose, finding the money to replace apparatus is challenging.

“Do we replace the equipment, or do we focus on the real issue, which is keeping ambulances staffed?” Pricher said.

The district's call volume is increasing an estimated 8 to 10 percent each year, data show, and the staff expects more ambulance transports over the next few years.

Having a new ladder truck won't help with medical calls, but it does free up some money in the district's budget that doesn't have to be spent on buying a new rig.

District residents will vote this month on whether to approve a five-year levy of $1.24 per $1,000 of assessed value. The levy represents a 30-cent increase per $1,000 of assessed value from what property owners currently pay.

The levy would help maintain current staffing levels during hours with peak call volume.