Just in time for the Oct. 11 vice-presidential debate at Centre College, Danville city officials have purchased a fire suppression skid unit that enables authorities to more quickly respond to emergencies than they could with a traditional fire truck.
Fire Chief Woody Ball, who has wanted such a unit since 2005, displayed it for interested residents attending Monday’s City Commission meeting.
The Trail Ranger 906 skid unit, now attached to the department’s Polaris Ranger ATV, has full firefighting and emergency response capabilities, including medical equipment, Ball said.
“The fire department needed this unit to have quick fire attack capabilities in the fenced and the secure area for the vice-presidential debate,” Ball said. “Due to many areas that will have fencing and concrete barriers for security, we cannot access those areas with a fire truck or a pickup truck.
“The U.S. Secret Service had assigned us the task of providing firefighting and medical response during the debate and wanted to be reassured that we could provide and manage response.”
With the help of Battalion Chief Jimmy Coffman, the city purchased a demo unit with a lifetime warranty for $8,500 rather than pay the regular sticker price of $10,400. Coffman drove to Ohio to pick up the unit so the city would not incur any additional costs for delivery.
The mobile fire suppression unit can deliver high pressure water or foam through a 65-gallon tank, Ball said. The unit can squelch fires in Dumpsters, brush, grass, cars and small rooms. The vehicle can provide prompt emergency medical care and transport. Also, the Trail Ranger 906 coupled with the Polaris Ranger ATV can reach off-road areas inaccessible to fire trucks.
In the past, Danville had to call the Boyle County Fire Department and request use of one of its brush trucks to access off-road areas. In addition, the skid unit is equipped to pressure wash oil and grease spills to curb damage to the environment and minimize road closure inconveniences.
During a telephone interview Tuesday, Ball also expressed thanks for City Manager Ron Scott’s assistance.
The skid unit had been in the fire department’s budget but needed to be expedited with the upcoming debate and the Secret Service’s expectations for local emergency response, Ball said.
Originally, the fire chief had hoped to secure a grant to purchase a skid unit, but while Danville was one of the top five contenders for the grant, a small volunteer fire department in Georgia received the funds.
“Ron truly pushed this forward for us,” Ball said.
The new mobile fire suppression unit will expedite emergency response not only at the vice-presidential debate but also in other crowded conditions such as the Boyle County Fair, the Great American Brass Band Festival and the Kentucky State BBQ Festival, Ball said.
“Battalion Chief Coffman has been instrumental in this purchase and training of the skid unit,” Ball said. “The credit goes to him for his hard work.”