ST. LOUIS, Mo. - St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson has reason to be proud of his new fleet of trucks hitting the St. Louis streets.
"A lot of planning and starting over, and every time we added a piece of new equipment or something we saw we liked, we had to reconfigure compartments," Jenkerson said. "It's not like you go to a lot and say, 'Give me that firetruck.' There's a lot of planning and man-hours."
It's taxpayer money that is paying for the new state-of-the-art firefighting machines. Approximately $15 million, courtesy of Prop F, which passed in April 2017.
Not just gadgets and gizmos, it's life-saving ideas like a 50-mile per hour crash proof bumper. Just one of the many new features, like the ergonomically designed hose storage and cameras at every corner.
"But all of our lead-off lines now are at hip height," Jenkerson said. "Nobody is climbing up on a truck possibly slipping and falling. We're trying to make what the firefighter does much safer and reducing workmen's comp and it's working."
Jenkerson and his staff spent years researching and designing the compartment friendly fire trucks, working with Nebraska-based Smeal on their wishlist of life-saving accouterments.
"Anything that sticks out from the truck becomes a hazard," said Jenkerson, describing hose attachments on the side of the truck. "That's why we put this type of valve on it. To operate the controls off the driver side, there's no more big handles. Everything is done electronically."
And if the electronics break down?
"Every bit of our valving is just a matter of opening this screen up and reach in here and control all the valves by hand…should we have an electronic failure," he said.
The St. Louis Fire Chief said the new black and red fire truck fleet is already hitting city streets.
"If you see them, stop and ask the guys to show it to you," Jenkerson said. "We're very proud and thankful that the citizens allowed us to get this."