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Ridgefield's New Fire Truck Could Pave The Way For More

The new engine is staying at the Ridgefield Firehouse on Old Stagecoach Road. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith
Ridgefield Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Tappe oversaw the committee of firefighters who worked to design the newest member of the fleet. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – The men and women of the Ridgefield Fire Department are thrilled to pieces with their brand new, designed for them fire engine.

The engine, which cost $575,000 and took about a year-and-a-half to design and build, Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Tappe said. It’s replacing the current Engine 1, which is turning 13 and has more than 100,000 miles on it.

“It’s very similar to the other fire trucks that we have, but there are several differences,” Tappe said. “We wanted to get what we needed.”

Given that it’s a small department, seats were taken out of the cab, making more room for firefighters and for storage. 

“It’s actually a smaller, shorter vehicle, but it ends up with more compartment space, which we need,” Tappe said. This truck won’t just handle fires, but also EMS calls and other types of emergency management calls.

Another major difference is that with the older trucks, most of the hoses and wires are exposed, but now they’re all inside or concealed. This addressed a safety concern for the firefighters: They’re no longer exposed to the elements for long while firefighters put the hoses away.

This truck also fits inside the garages. The doors to the garages at both Ridgefield fire houses are about 10 feet tall, much shorter than contemporary doors. When the main firehouse on Catoonah Street was built in 1901, the department had wagons and horses, which are much shorter than modern fire trucks, Tappe said.

The truck holds 700 gallons of water and about 40 gallons of two types of foam that can help extinguish fires faster and with less water. It also meets all standards of the Environmental Protection Agency. The engine's only emissions are water vapor and nitrogen.

“It drives like a car,” Tappe said. The new engine has independent front suspension — every other truck has a straight axel. “It’s easy and smooth.”

Although the engine hasn’t gone out yet on a run, it will take over as the department's primary engine by the end of the month, Tappe said.

Over the past month, the department has been trained to drive the new engine and will focus on learning the new hose system. The department plans to retire Engine 2, and by next year have another new engine.

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