Story last updated at 2:32 p.m. Thursday, December 12, 2002

Pumper, fast-attack engine added to fleet

KESA gets new trucks

by Chris Bernard
Staff Writer

photo: news

  Photo by Chris Bernard, Homer News
Kachemak Emergency Services expects to take delivery of a pumper and engine next month.  
Kachemak Emergency Services expects to take delivery of two new vehicles next month that will help the group provide better emergency coverage for Homer's more remote locations.

The pumper and engine will join an ambulance and a growing fleet of brush trucks in the stable at Mile 13.5 East End Road, the future site of a Kachemak Emergency Services Area firehall, currently in the planning stages.

KESA purchased the two vehicles in part with a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

One is a custom-built Class A Pumper with a 750-gallon tank, a 1,000-gallons-per-minute pump and a 30-gallon foam tank.

"We needed a truck designed to carry a decent amount of water, act as a pumper and first-line response truck," said Scott Cunningham, chair of the KESA board. "Not to knock them, because they do a fine job, but the Homer Volunteer Fire Department equipment is a lot bigger, longer and heavier and probably couldn't make it to some of the houses in our service area."

For its needs, the KESA board wanted a four-wheel drive vehicle with a smaller, lighter chassis. Cunningham expects the one they found will suit its needs well.

"It can't carry as much water as the bigger trucks, but it has the same ... flow."

The second vehicle is a fast-attack engine, purchased as a demonstration unit from a dealer. With 33,000 demo miles on it, the engine came in at a cost more than $30,000 cheaper than brand new.

"It's still under factory warranty," Cunningham said. "This is a truck that is going to get a lot of attention."

Built on a Ford F-550 chassis, the truck can get to more remote locations than a bigger engine.

The engine is equipped with a compressed air foam system, which injects air into the foam, creating a firefighting tool rated from five to 25 times more effective than water alone.

"(Firefighters) are using this truck a lot Outside," Cunningham said, "and they love it. Down the road, I foresee us needing another one of these so we can serve both ends of our service area. It's the ideal truck for Alaska."

Combined, the trucks are worth more than $300,000 at full market value.

The trucks will eventually be housed in the KESA firehall, which is still in design stages. The latest proposal offered by the Anchorage-based architectural firm was rejected as too costly by the KESA board, and a more streamlined design is expected in the coming weeks, Cunningham said.

The Kachemak Emergency Services Area contracts with HVFD to cover the Homer area outside city limits, from the Old Sterling Highway to the Caribou Hills, with the exception of Kachemak City.

Chris Bernard can be reached at