A Chanhassen fire engine that was slated for retirement just got a new job.
Engine 22, a 1981 pumper truck, is now in the hands of the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department in Queens, a borough of New York.
Chanhassen loaned the truck to the small community, which had both of its fire trucks and ambulances destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
Chanhassen's City Council is expected to make the loan a permanent donation at its next regular meeting on Nov. 26.
"This truck is in great shape," said Captain Cori Wallis, who's in charge of equipment for the Chanhassen Fire Department.
Chanhassen acquired a new pumper truck in 2007, he said, and has kept Engine 22 in reserve status since then. It was scheduled to be sold at the end of this year, and probably would have gone to a smaller fire department that can't afford new equipment.
"The truck that we're proposing to donate only has a street value of about $3,000, which is still a lot of money, but not that much considering that a new fire truck costs $250,000 or more," said Laurie Hokkanen, Chanhassen assistant city manager.
Emergency responders are used to moving quickly, and that was also true with this project.
Wallis and others read on Facebook on Nov. 1 that the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department had lost everything when Hurricane Sandy struck the city. Broad Channel, which is mostly a land bridge connected to the Rockaway area of New York, was slammed by the storm and flooded by rain and high tides.
One truck responding to the emergency was inundated with salt water, Wallis said, causing it to short-circuit and catch on fire. Both ambulances were completely submerged in the flood, and one was also smashed by a loose shipping container.
Wallis said he got clearance from Chanhassen officials on Nov. 2 to contact the volunteer fire department to see if they could use Engine 22.
"One of their guys called me within five minutes," he said. "They were driving around in someone's pickup doing what they could to help people."
Wallis and others then needed to find a way to transport the truck to New York. They called several trucking firms over the weekend and learned that it would cost about $6,000 normally. But one of the companies, ATS Specialized, Inc. of St. Cloud, offered to transport the fire truck at no charge.
On Nov. 5, the company loaded Engine 22 onto a low-boy trailer and delivered it to the volunteer fire department in New York on Nov. 7.
On Facebook that day, the volunteers posted a photo of the truck in its new home.
"It was pretty surprising that a company from Minnesota was the first to take action," said Broad Channel Assistant Fire Chief Ed Wilmarth in an interview. "Those guys weren't messing around. They wanted that truck out here as quickly as possible, which was great. They understood the severity of the problem."
Partners step up
In addition to the Chanhassen pumper truck, neighboring fire departments provided secondhand and spare equipment.
Victoria Fire and Carver Fire sent extra boots and helmets. Chaska's Fire Department sent four air monitors, a Jaws of Life unit and two small power generators -- all of which had been recently replaced with new equipment. The Mdewakanton Sioux community sent a truck to follow the transport, loaded with about $20,000 in additional gear.
Wilmarth said that Broad Channel has tested Engine 22 and "everything works perfectly." He said the city of New York has its own unique type of pipe thread, so various components of the truck need to be replaced before it can be put into full service and hook up to hydrants. He said the equipment will be put to good use as recovery efforts continue and as winter approaches.
Wallis said Chanhassen and its neighbors were happy to assist their fellow firefighters in Broad Channel.
"When we called and said this is a go, they were absolutely ecstatic," he said. "It was the exact reaction we were hoping for."
Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388