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Medford orders a fire warrior

Courtesy Pierce Manufacturing Medford Fire-Rescue ordered a new Pierce fire pumper similar to the one pictured.

The first line of defense against a house or woodland fire is a fire engine pumper that can often deal a knockout blow in less than a minute.

“We can put a substantial amount of fire out with the 750 gallons,” said Medford fire Chief Eric Thompson.

On Thursday, Medford City Council authorized the purchase of a custom-built $823,743 pumper truck to replace a 25-year-old truck.

The new Pierce fire pumper can deliver up to 1,500 gallons a minute if connected to a hydrant or tender, but it comes with a 750-gallon tank to deliver an initial attack.

Thompson said it takes a year to deliver the truck once he places the order because it’s built from the ground up.

“They are customized to meet the needs of our community,” Thompson said.

The pumper comes equipped with all-purpose features that make it more versatile in different types of fires, and it has tools onboard to help extricate people from wrecked cars.

Hoses on the truck will be placed lower down on the rig to prevent minor injuries.

Thompson said the truck will have a shorter wheelbase to make it more maneuverable around city streets.

Pierce Manufacturing informed Medford Fire-Rescue of a rise in the cost of steel starting Sept. 1. Thompson plans to place the order by Aug. 31 to avoid an extra $10,500. The price the city will pay for the truck includes a $39,739 discount for prepayment.

The last time Medford Fire-Rescue bought a new pumper was in 2015, at a cost of $731,200.

Medford fire has five front-line pumpers, with four in reserve, for a total of nine.

The reserve pumpers require more and more maintenance as their lifespan increases.

One of the reserve pumpers will be retired after 25 years of service when the new rig arrives, and one of the older frontline pumpers will be put in reserve.

Thompson said the old rig will be donated to a fire district in Jackson County.

"Our first desire is to find a community that doesn’t have the ability to purchase one,” he said.

Even though the retired pumper is old, it has been well maintained over the years.

"The guys take a lot of pride in their rigs,” Thompson said.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.