TORRINGTON – A new addition to the Torrington Volunteer Fire Department (TVFD) rolled into town Thursday, January 13. With several City of Torrington officials, TVFD members and residents gathered in the fire department parking lot, the Pierce Ascendant 100’ Heavy-Duty Aerial Tower fire engine, or Tower I, was delivered to its new home.
According to TVFD Fire Chief Lance Petsch, the reason behind this purchase “Is to provide better firefighter safety as well as being able to provide a higher quality of fire protection capabilities for the citizens of Torrington and Goshen County.”
The $1.3 million ladder truck was purchased by a 75% matching grant from the Office of State Lands and Investment Board (SLIB) with mineral royalty grant monies. The City of Torrington and rural departments contributed the remaining 25%, or 12.5% each.
Torrington Mayor, Randy Adams mentioned TVFD had three instances in recent years that put firefighters at risk and this ladder truck is an added safety measure. “These incidents made it very clear to us that we needed to get after getting a ladder truck,” Adams said.
One of those incidents included the Roy’s cold storage fire that occurred in February of 2019, which destroyed the Torrington landmark. Petsch indicated the need for an aerial truck became a topic of discussion soon thereafter.
“On that call, we asked for mutual aid help from Scottsbluff Fire with their aerial,” Petsch said. “Once that arrived, we were able to get firefighters in positions to get to the seat of the fire and allow us to extinguish it.”
Another call for mutual aid from Scottsbluff for the use of their aerial truck ensued in October of that same year with a fire in a townhouse complex on East L Street. Petsch mentioned with the use of the aerial truck, they had the ability to tackle the fire from above, spraying down, which proved to make a difference in extinguishing the flames.
The Roy’s Cold Storage fire resulted in a complete loss. The East L Street fire damaged multiple homes and displaced six families. The response time for the Scottsbluff aerial truck is about an hour out if within Torrington city limits. With the addition of TVFD’s Tower I, the response time could potentially be within minutes.
TVFD volunteer, Chuck Kenyon, echoed the issue of safety.
“Most modern construction processes, we have what they call lightweight construction, which means they’re building houses with wood trusses that are manufactured, plywood roofs and stuff like that,” Kenyon said. “The newer, lightweight-style construction fails faster when it’s subjected to fire.”
The main concern for TVFD aside from keeping its residents safe, is the safety of its firefighters. Climbing ladders and working on roofs is already dangerous. Petsch mentioned adding in factors of cold weather and the possibility of ice can make footing problematic and increase the probability of someone slipping and falling off a roof.
“Being able to go up in a basket, step out onto the roof and ventilate and then step back into the basket will be much safer for firefighters,” Petsch said. “There are a lot of two-story houses in our coverage area, and if we ever have a situation in which we need to rescue someone from the second story, this will make the rescue safer for the firefighters as well as the patient.”
TVFD began its training with an individual from Pierce Manufacturing to learn the ins and outs of the truck on Thursday. Training will continue into Saturday.
“I think it is an exciting time for the Torrington Volunteer Fire Department,” Petsch said. “Having this truck will be a great asset for not only Torrington but for Goshen County as well.”