Many little boys dream of Santa leaving a shiny, red fire truck under the tree.
The grown men of Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue recently got a full-sized version, just in time for Christmas.
The new aerial truck, which took a year to custom-build, arrived in Columbia County Dec. 3 complete with lights, sirens and radios -- and a $750,000 price tag.
The truck, the county's largest piece of emergency equipment, carries a platform-topped ladder that extends 100 feet.
"It is a big one. It just barely fits," Martinez-Columbia Chief Doug Cooper said of the truck that squeezes through the bay door at fire headquarters with only a few inches to spare.
The truck, which was paid for through the capital improvements bond voters approved in November 2006, is stationed at headquarters on Desoto Drive while that station's aerial truck, AT-1, is having its transmission repaired. The new vehicle eventually will be stationed at Engine Co. 7 on Sugar Creek Drive.
"We're expecting a lot of growth out there," Cooper said of the area near Interstate 20 and Grovetown.
With growing industry in the county and the seemingly constant construction of big-box stores, the county's three aerial trucks are very important for fire protection, he said
The 100-foot reach of the truck's boom and platform, which has a nozzle that can pump up to 2,000 gallons of water per minute, offer firefighters advantages. It allows them to put water on a fire from above, the most effective angle, to reach the upper levels of growing county buildings and to reach the center of the large box retailers and plants.
"It is a capability that we didn't have in the past," Cooper said, adding the three trucks will serve as back-up for each other. "Because if you need this thing right here, you've really got something going on. If you need this one, you might need another one."
The department's first two aerial trucks can lift the platform and boom in winds as high as 35 mph winds. Cooper said the newest truck includes a steel ladder and other amenities that make the boom and platform stable enough to be used in higher winds.
"You can put this one up in 50 mph winds," Cooper said. "Of course, I wouldn't want to be in it in a 50 mph wind."
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