MFPD takes delivery of new ladder truck; chief praises Apparatus Committee’s work

Members of apparatus panel go above, beyond for MFPD

The Mehlville Fire Protection District recently took delivery of a new 75-foot aerial ladder truck. Pictured, from left, are: Board of Directors Treasurer Bonnie Stegman, Chief Brian Hendricks, Chief Mechanic Ken Wenk, Pvt. Mike Mueller and Deputy Chief Dan Furrer. Furrer, Wenk and Mueller serve on the districts Apparatus Committee. Mike Anthony photo

The Mehlville Fire Protection District recently took delivery of a new 75-foot aerial ladder truck. Pictured, from left, are: Board of Directors Treasurer Bonnie Stegman, Chief Brian Hendricks, Chief Mechanic Ken Wenk, Pvt. Mike Mueller and Deputy Chief Dan Furrer. Furrer, Wenk and Mueller serve on the district’s Apparatus Committee. Mike Anthony photo

By Mike Anthony

The Mehlville Fire Protection District recently took delivery of a new 75-foot aerial ladder truck, and Chief Brian Hendricks praised the district’s Apparatus Committee for its work in ensuring the quality of the new vehicle.

Two members of the Board of Directors — Treasurer Bonnie Stegman and Secretary Ed Ryan — inspected the new vehicle along with Chief Brian Hendricks and members of the Apparatus Committee — Deputy Chief Dan Furrer, Chief Mechanic Ken Wenk and Pvt. Mike Mueller — before the May 17 Board of Directors meeting.

“… I wanted to take just a moment and thank members of the Apparatus Committee — Deputy Chief Furrer, Chief Mechanic Kenny Wenk and Pvt. Mike Mueller — for their tireless dedication to putting these trucks on the street. It is truly no small feat,” Hendricks said during the meeting. I’ve been a part of it, and it takes hours and they spend a lot of time away from their families. And it is a significant undertaking …”

Board members voted in May 2016 to approve Pierce Manufacturing Co.’s bid of $733,854 for the 75-foot aerial ladder truck — nearly $43,000 less than the company’s initial bid.

The vehicle’s 1,500-gallon-per-minute fire pump supplied with a 400-gallon on-board water tank provides the fire-fighting attack capabilities.

The truck was designed and engineered to be all aluminum, which reduced the overall gross vehicle weight by roughly 5,000 pounds. Hose loads were lowered and equipment was placed ergonomically to enhance firefighter safety and ease of operation.

“So Chief Furrer and the group has been building trucks for us, and I would just like to remind you that this is just a very large line item in the budget, and they’ve never let us down,” the chief told the board. “They always put the best product on the street.

“They make several trips to Wisconsin or Florida or wherever they have to go. No one complains. They do it because they want to. More importantly, they do it because they’re good at it. We’re putting good trucks on the street. They’re lighter. They’re more efficient.”

Hendricks also praised the Apparatus Committee members individually for their contributions to the fire district.

“Chief Furrer has done a phenomenal job managing costs and kind of being the one that has to deal with that,” he said. “One of our unknowns, but up-and-comers, is Pvt. Mike Mueller back there. He has stepped up to the plate in a big way. He brings new and fresh ideas. He’s out there amongst the rank and file.

“He has good ideas. He’s able to make the trips, which is good. He does a lot of the legwork. He’s doing just a lot for the district, and I think it’s really important that he be recognized for not only his work on the Apparatus Committee, but also filling in, helping with training. He’s really contributing a significant amount to the district and I want to personally thank him for everything that he’s doing.”

Wenk has been with the fire district for 36 years, and Hendricks said the chief mechanic goes above and beyond in performing his duties.

“I don’t think we all understand exactly how hard it is to manage a fleet our size. Keeping these trucks on the road is no small feat, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for Kenny and all he does,” he said. “I mean this guy is here at 6:30 in the morning and he doesn’t leave until the job’s done. And like I said, from the stuff that he fixes, to managing the fleet to even having the time to do what he does with the Apparatus Committee, you’ve got 36 years of knowledge built up there, and there’s times I know that I’ve gone to him and said, ‘I don’t understand why we just don’t do this?’

“And Kenny says, ‘Well, we did that 24 years ago and this is what happened.’ And it’s nice to have that experience on the apparatus team and I just want to thank all three of you …”

Ryan also praised the Apparatus Committee’s work.

“One thing I’d like to add is that we go out for competitive bids and we get quite a few companies that are interested in selling us fire apparatus, and so our specification has to be written so that everybody can bid completely,” he said. “And that’s really a huge advantage for Mehlville Fire District and I congratulate you on that.

“Putting things in there that only one manufacturer can meet puts everyone else at a disadvantage and they don’t want to bid. It’s as simple as that. I think last time we had five or six different apparatus companies bidding?”

Hendricks said, “Right.”

Ryan said, “And that was fantastic …”