Four new High Water Fire Engines, new stations
SHELDON – The Sheldon Community Fire & Rescue department held a traditional “push-in” ceremony last Sunday at Station 2 on the Beaumont Highway. The occasion was the start of service for their newest fire engine, a specially designed high-water truck by W. S. Darley & Co. of Itasca, Illinois.
In addition, the event included the “pinning” of two probationary fireman to full status in the department. These new firemen are Joshua Simmonds and Diego Villarreal. Four junior firemen were also promoted at this time.
Chief Sidney Webb explained to the invited crowd that the department had four of the new specially-designed high water trucks on order, and due for service in the next month. One each will be assigned to the existing stations on C.E. King Parkway, Beaumont Highway, South Lake Houston Parkway at Beltway 8, and the new station scheduled for Uvalde at Kinsman.
Chief Webb announced that the new station would break ground this month, will include administration offices as well as firefighting equipment, and would be about 21,900 sq. ft. and costing about $14 million dollars. It will go into service by November 2022.
As the Sheldon area has grown quickly over the past few years, the SCF&R department has grown also, and is now responsible for an area of about 60 square miles, with 175,000 residents.
The new fire trucks were designed to drive through moderate flood waters several feet deep safely. During Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the area got 60 inches of rain, according to Assistant Chief Roland Balderas.
The new engines have a CAFS compressed air foam system, a 1750 gpm pump, a 1000 gallon water tank, a 30 gallon foam cell, and the 220 cfm air compressor. Their engine air intake and exhause systems were custom designed to be above high water levels. All electrical components were waterproofed.
In commenting on the custom design of the fire engines, Chief Webb said “Some of what makes these rigs special is the things done to allow the engines to survive if they need to be driven through flood waters.
“Our general rule of thumb is not to drive through any water that touches the blue striping on the sides. Many engines are ruined due to the air intakes being down low and sucking water into the engine. Horizontal exhaust under the vehicle can also cause issues as does sucking flood water into the transmission or rear differential vents. Even the vents on fuel tanks have led to water contamination if they are not protected by raising them up into the fire apparatus body.
“The typical air filter canister has been changed and moved from down low in front of the passenger’s side front tire to above the radiator and the design is now more like a home furnace filter.
“The transmission, pump gearcase, rear differential, fuel tank, and all other vents have been elevated up higher to avoid sucking in flood water.
“The vertical stack was designed and chosen to keep the engine exhaust flowing smoothly.”
Also present for the ceremonies on Sunday were members of ESD60, and families of the new pinned firemen. Refreshments and a social hour followed the ceremonies.