New engine crosses country to Tumwater

ckrotzer@theolympian.comDecember 17, 2012 

The Tumwater Fire Department won’t need to worry about how its newest fire engine will handle winter driving conditions.

Built in Appleton, Wis., the $568,000 engine handled the inclement weather just fine on the drive back to Thurston County last week.

Firefighter Donovan Cathey and Lt. Ken Goldsby spent five days and four nights going cross-country, taking the 600-gallon engine through wind, rain, snow and ice during the first leg of the journey.

“We had to bring cables in case we needed them in Minnesota … they are illegal in Wisconsin,” Cathey said. “We brought them with us on the plane.”

Luckily, they never had to use the chains. They did bring along some emergency equipment just in case they came across anyone in distress on the 2,100-mile drive.

“People don’t see the emblems; they see a red fire truck and expect it to stop,” Cathey said.

The worst thing the pair came across was a semi crash that blocked the entire freeway, but their help was not needed.

The truck and the crew made it back to Tumwater on Wednesday night without any incidents, just in time for technicians from Hughes Fire Equipment to do a final checkup on the engine Thursday. The new engine will replace an aging one, making for a fleet of four at the department. The engine was paid for with money raised during the city’s 2011 levy-lid lift, which also paid for the hiring of three firefighters.

After being retrofitted with the necessary gear, the engine should be ready for use in mid-January, said Fire Chief John Carpenter. The city plans on having an open house at the Fire Department once the engine is ready.

Lacey Fire District 3 is getting two new engines from the same company. Crews will fly out this week to do final inspections.

The engines will be delivered after the first of the year. Because of possible adverse weather, Chief Steve Brooks said they are leaving the driving to the company, rather than the firefighters.

One of the engines was purchased with money from a fire bond and the other was bought with money from the department’s general fund.

They will replace two 1989 engines.

“We will keep one of those for training only, and the other one will be surplused,” Brooks said.

Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476 @chelseakrotzer

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