Vernon Township FD purchases ladder truck to manage growth

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A similar ladder truck to the one Vernon Township Fire Department is purchasing that was built by the same company, Sutphen.

Courtesy of Vernon Township Fire Department and Sutphen

Vernon township Fire Department is moving forward with the purchase of a new ladder truck to help manage the growth of the communities it works in.

Fire Chief Mark Elder presented the plan for a new ladder truck along with the department’s proposed 2025 budget to the Fortville Town Council at its Monday night meeting, emphasizing the impact the new truck will have on public safety.

“It’s a 100-foot ladder truck, which Vernon Township does not have right now,” Elder said. “So any of our large buildings, usually three stories or higher, that we currently have or that are currently being built, that will be a big benefit in the event should one of those catch on fire.”

The ladder truck will have a full water tank on it to serve as both a ladder truck and an additional engine for the department’s fleet.

As Fortville and McCordsville have begun to expand rapidly in recent years, the department has had to work harder with insufficient resources.

“As growth continues, the number of calls that we have to respond to increases,” Elder said. “Right now, we’re up 12% from this time last year in the number of runs, so as we develop and have more people in the area, we’re going to be having more responsibility.”

The truck was the culmination of a three-year plan in which the department strategically saved money and came in under budget to save up money reserves and build up to the point where it could purchase the truck.

After looking at several companies to potentially build the new truck, Vernon Fire commissioned it to be built by Stutphen Fire Truck Manufacturers in Dublin, Ohio over a 24-26 month timeframe for a cost of $1.7 million. The cost was fully accounted for in the department’s reserves and would not require any financing, additional fundraising or appropriations from any local governments.

Until now, and over the next two years until the new truck is completed, Vernon has relied on assistance from other area fire departments whenever a ladder truck would have been needed, but Elder notes that with more people coming into the area, at some point Vernon Township needs to handle these problems on its own.

The new truck was paired with a budget expansion to hire three shift managers to the department, giving it more manpower to go with the new hardware. The move would cut Elder’s responsibility significantly, as he would no longer have every member of the department reporting directly to him, with each of the new hires running the show during their respective shift.

Both the new budget and the proposal for the new truck were approved by the Town Council unanimously, and Elder left them with a joke, saying the department was “taking a list” of anyone who wanted to ride in the truck when it was completed.