MOULTRIE – The Moultrie Fire Department received a complete set of TNT emergency tools Wednesday, and these are twice as powerful than the formerly used 2003 models.
Included in the set are a spreader, cutter, ram and combination tool, and a Milwaukee Sawzall. This order is just one in a string of recent purchases and updates the fire department has made.
Moultrie Fire Chief Jeff Thibodeau said though the city might not have realized it before, it now realized that it had needs that, in the past, weren’t fulfilled. He said he always tries to be vocal about things of this nature.
“With me, I don’t keep anything a secret,” Thibodeau said. “I go and explain to them ‘Hey, this is what we need,’ and why. We’re kind of behind the 8 ball on some of the stuff.”
One such thing are the department’s firetrucks.
“The newest models we have in service right now is the 2016, and then after that the 1998 models,” he said, “We just had to retire an ’81 and an ’84 model.”
The ’84 model’s pump is now defunct, but it’s still used as a secondary rescue truck in an effort to use what it has until the department can get more. Thibodeau said, “It’s still a good truck.”
Fortunately for the department, the Moultrie City Council approved a $495,097.56 bid for a new Sutphen Corporation fire truck. It will replace the two retired trucks.
Moultrie firefighters also received new fire helmets earlier this season.
“All emergency stuff has a 10-year shelf life,” Thibodeau said. “The problem is this stuff costs so much money that you just can’t get it all in one budget, so we’ve kind of had to roll it in and get the critical stuff first and work on the other stuff.”
Next up on that agenda are new fire boots. The department’s current boots are rubber structural boots that are heavier with lower durability and comfortability than the new boots.
“So the boots that we’ll be getting in will be leather boots,” Thibodeau said. “It takes the workload off the guys. If they’re doing something really strenuous they (won’t be) walking around with what feels like bricks on their feet.”
The leather boots will be more expensive, but will provide better durability, comfortability and will feel almost as lightweight as sneakers.
Eventually, all department members will be getting a pair, but for now, only those with an immediate need for them will receive them.
Thibodeau said to keep an eye out for a new training center that’ll pop up before 2025. This training center will be four stories with three class A burn pods that’ll allow firefighters to simulate real fires.
“That’s something that we’ve been lacking and have gotten hit on with our ISO rating,” Thibodeau said. “So, we’re going to be building that and the money left over from that we’ll need to renovate this station and then station 2 on the boulevard.”
The training center will also allow the county and other agencies to train and coordinate with the city. Excitement about the project is abundant, but with the nature of the SPLOST it being based on – tax money accrued over time – the training center is a long ways away.
Right now, the fire department will have to keep an eye on spending so much early in the next fiscal year. Thibodeau said they don’t want to use too much at first and not have money for emergency situations such as buying new gear which could cost more than $2,500.
“You can’t ever predict what’s going to happen,” he said. “There are a lot of neat things happening with the fire department and it’s all because we have a city council, a mayor, and a city manager who know we’re not just asking for toys. We’re asking for equipment we need to do our jobs for the city of Moultrie effectively and efficiently.”