Dixie VFD adds new $450K firetruck to fleet

By BETH BUNCH,

Christmas came early for firefighters with the Dixie Volunteer Fire Department, who recently took possession of a new fire truck – a 2019 E1 Typhoon Custom Pumper.

Wrapped all in red with shiny bells and whistles, the truck was delivered from the E1 plant in Ocala, Fla., and will help firefighters keep the citizens of District 1 safer.

Meetings regarding the truck, which has a price tag of about $458,000, began about 18 months ago when members of the department sat down with E1 personnel to discuss the needs of the volunteer fire department.

“It took six months of prepping, designing and talking through a series of meetings,” A1 salesman Hank Levins said. “It was constructed to meet their specifications and needs.”

The addition of equipment such as chain saws and extraction equipment pushed the cost of the truck to more than $600,0000.

Dixie VFD Chief Billy Alford said funds for the truck came from the state’s Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Assistant Program ($90,000), a match from the Forrest County Board of Supervisors ($90,000), $20,000 from District 1 Supervisor/Board President David Hogan, and a match ($90,000) from Dixie VFD. The balance will be paid off over the next five years with rebate money the department receives from insurance companies and levy monies.

The truck, which has a lifespan of about 25 years, is replacing a 10-year truck that is 20 years old. One of the firefighters explained that with fire trucks and other firefighting equipment, updates must be made in a timely fashion in order to meet rating requirements, which helps reduce the insurance rates of the district’s homeowners. Forrest County currently has a 7 rating.

Features of the 1,000-gallon truck, according to Levins, include a 1250 GPM (gallons per minute) pump and large integrated EMS compartments along the sides, which allow “Dixie to carry necessary equipment to meet their mission.”

The truck also carries extrication equipment and contains a 30-gallon foam cell. One firefighter explained they use foam on 18-wheeler fires and house fires to keep it from rekindling after they leave.

The truck can hold four firefighters, three in their SCBA seats and one of the big features is an extended front bumper.

“This was a need they determined worked for them,” Levins said. “They can pull lines off the front of the truck, which provides safety because the truck is behind them. It also allows firefighters to work off the front in the event the truck is required to go down a narrower road where firefighters can’t work off the sides of the truck.”

Dixie also elected to add a lot of scene lighting to the vehicle so when the truck shows up the firefighters don’t need a lot of extra lighting.

Levins noted a special feature of the E1, which the company prides itself on, is a fully integrated rollcage system.

“It has vertical uprights, 3/16-inch aluminum, extrudent cab and body which provides additional safety for firefighters,” Levins said. “We are known for our rollover cage. That’s definitely an added feature that separates E1 from the rest of them.”

Alford said this is the second truck for Dixie in 10 years.

“This is the second E1 we have,” Alford said of the previous truck which was purchased in 2010. “They basically have identical body styles. We just changed the front bumper as well as some features here and there, including cameras on the sides for when we turn and backup cameras. The additional upgrades are to make us safer.”

With the delivery of this truck, the Dixie VFD has three pumpers, a rescue vehicle and two brush trucks in service.

The truck also features the logo of the district’s school – the Dixie Yellowjackets.

“We take the truck to the school and do fire prevention every year,” said Jonathan Howard, a volunteer fireman. . “We have a splash day at the end of the school year where we provide water for them, buy students ice cream twice a year, just to give back to the community.”

Alford said the department is thankful for what the Forrest County Board of Supervisors have done to support them throughout the years. “We appreciate everything and are glad they helped make this purchase possible,” he said.