PHOTOS — See why Nederland Fire Department’s new ladder truck is a 1st for Southeast Texas

Published 12:32 am Tuesday, December 7, 2021

NEDERLAND — For the residents of Nederland, the recent “push-in” ceremony celebrating a new ladder truck for the fire department is about more than a new truck — it’s about improving safety.

The Pierce custom Velocity Aerial, heavy-duty ladder truck replaced the previous 1987 model. And while the older one served the city well, it was at the point where maintenance was costly and deterioration was starting, Nederland Fire Chief Terry Morton said.

“And like any other equipment, sooner or later it will have to be replaced. Like your personal vehicle, most people don’t drive theirs for 34 years,” Morton said. “Our apparatus has to be dependable and ready to go in a moment or so. A 34-year-old one doesn’t fit that bill anymore.”

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Fire trucks are not the type of vehicle one would purchase straight from a dealership. The trucks, like this new ladder truck in Nederland, are custom made.

“From start to finish, we’ve been hands on,” Morton said. “That process took close to six months start to finish. We had a design and options.”

There was a trip to Appleton, Wisconsin, where the Pierce manufacturing headquarters are and once the design was completed, a crew returned there for inspection of the vehicle.

“What makes this different for our area is that it is the first one in Southeast Texas that is mid-mount platform so the base of the ladder mount is at the mid portion of the truck,” he said.

In most other ladder trucks, the base is at a different spot and the platform sticks out over the front of the truck.

Not so with this one.

“It is one of the lowest profiles trucks as far as height,” he said. “When running down the road, it’s the same height as the pumper truck.”

This allows the new truck to go under low-hanging trees and other obstacles.

In addition, the ladder on the new model is 100 feet and has a pumping capacity of 2,000 gallons per minute. The 1987 truck had a 75-feet ladder and 1,500 gallons per minute.

Nederland City Manager Chris Duque said the purchase price of the new ladder truck was $1.466 million and the city did not have to issue debt or adjust the tax rate to make the purchase.

Energy Transfer donated $10,000 toward the cost of the truck. The company is in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. The city has an industrial tax agreement with them and provides fire services if requested.