Something to smile about

Dwight Fire District members with the new truck. Pictured front row from left, Jordan Fletcher, Shawn Tol, Jim Heuer (Heiman Fire), Leo Griffin, Andy Gregor, Wade Griffin, Michelle Rossow, Aaron Petersen, Shea Gilbertson, Mike King and Vaughan Griffin; back row from left, Nathan Hoggarth, Cole Defries and Clint Gilbertson.

The Dwight Fire Department received its first brand new pumper truck in the department’s 103-year history.

“It’s going to be great,” Chief Andy Gregor said. “Our other engines are showing their age and to have a frontline pumper that we know that can do the job, there’s no worries now that we can provide water and safety to our community.”

The truck is a 2020 pumper truck meant to replace the fire department’s 1985 pumper truck. The department has upgraded trucks in the past, but this is the first truck that is brand new to the department and not purchased from another department or elsewhere. It was a seven-year effort on the part of three different chiefs to acquire the new truck for the department.

“We always had to settle for something used, something of lesser quality. But now, with all the industry that we have to cover and fire’s getting bigger and badder all the time, we have to have the equipment,” First Assistant Fire Chief Clint Gilbertson said.

The truck, tools and hose cost $351,409.70. The truck was purchased with the help of a $187,200 loan from the Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative, Gregor said. It would have been difficult to purchase the truck and equipment without the loan.

“I’m 82 years old and to me it makes a big difference,” Dwight resident Benny Samek said about the new pumper truck.

The Dwight Fire Department consists of 34 volunteers who cover 110 square miles, along with offering mutual aid to surrounding areas. The department’s main coverage area encompasses some of the largest industries in the area, such as GIANTS Snacks, inc.

The truck was constructed by Rosenbauer in South Dakota. The truck features remote mounted cannons on the front and top of the truck which allows firefighters to fight fires more safely and efficiently, Gilbertson said.

The truck can push 1,250 gallons of water per minute and the cab can now carry five firefighters compared to four in the old truck.

“The other capability of this truck is really amazing is the fact that we’ve got suction on all four sides of this truck. We get a lot of rural fires along narrow driveways into a farm yard. We have to set up drop tanks on the ground where we serve water out of those drop tanks to be able to fight the fire depending on how that driveway is set up,” Gilbertson said.

The previous truck only had suction off the sides of the truck, which meant firefighters lost valuable time trying to orient the truck properly. Having suction on all four sides of the truck allows the department to fight fires more efficiently.

“Our little fire department isn’t so little anymore,” Gilbertson said.

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