Fire Chief Rich Higgins

Fire Chief Rich Higgins joined by members of the Tower One committee at the Push In Ceremony.

The Ames Fire Department welcomed the new Tower One fire and rescue vehicle with the community during a Push-In Ceremony Monday afternoon.

The new fire and rescue apparatus is outfitted with a basket at the end of the aerial device that can hold up to four firefighters at once.

Ames Fire Chief Rich Higgins told the Iowa State Daily with the introduction of Tower One comes an increase in the fire department's rescue capabilities.

“With our previous ladder truck– it worked really well– but it was one person at the ladder,” Higgins said. “And you would go up to a window if you had to facilitate a rescue, or a balcony, and it was one person at a time that you could get down. Now with having a tower, we can fit, in that basket, multiple people at a time.”

This marks the first time in Ames history that the fire department has been in possession of two fire rescue apparatuses with aerial capabilities. Higgins jokingly emphasized the necessity for multiple fire rescue vehicles.

“Our apparatus are highly maintained and the crews take a lot of pride in that,…our fleet maintenance team that we have in the fire department do an outstanding job making sure we have apparatus that works 24/7,” Higgins said. ”We don’t have the luxury of coming back in and saying ‘Hey, you called 911, but give us a minute, we have a flat tire,’ so we make sure our apparatus is ready to respond 24/7.”

Higgins said Tower One is expected to see 25 years of service, with 15 of them being spent as a front line vehicle. The fire department's current ladder truck is being sent to Wisconsin to be completely refurbished and kept as a back-up for the fire department.

Ames City Manager Steve Schainker shared sentiments similar to Higgins in regards to the investment of the fire truck.

“As fire chief said, these things are supposed to last about 15 years, but we push ‘em as much as we can,” Schainker said. “Some of these we’ve had on the front line for 18 years, so it’s a good investment on the part of the citizens because they take really good care of the equipment.”

Higgins said Push-In Ceremonies date back to the 1800’s and serve as a way for the station to stay true to their tradition of pushing the trucks back into the station to be prepared for their next call.

“What firefighters would do is they would bring the fire-wagon back to the fire station, and the horses don't like to back up, so they would unhitch the horses at the front of the station and take the horses to another stall, feed ‘em, clean ‘em, and then the firefighters would push the wagon back into the station to get ready for another service call,” Higgins said.

Ames Mayor John Haila said he was grateful for the community’s continued support for the firefighters and remarked on the commitment firefighters make.

“The complexity of firefighting is so much more than just putting water on a fire. It’s how do you attack it, proper training– that's the one thing that impressed me: how many hours of training a year firefighters go through,” Haila said.

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