LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Three new fire engines are now in service for Lincoln Fire and Rescue and are serving the residents of Lincoln. As the department works to improve response time and technology, they're still awaiting even more new engines to better equip firefighters to do their jobs.
Eighty is the average number of calls Lincoln Fire and Rescue responds to every day.
Station 1 serves the downtown area of Lincoln. Just a few years ago, the station received newer engines, but it was once again time to replace an older one. The new engine they received last week doesn't just drive and ride better, but ultimately, it's much safer, both for firefighters and for the people they serve.
Division Chief Kendall Warnock with LFR's logistics division tells us, "Number one is safety for the men and women here. So, the air bag systems are continuing to get better in the fire service industry, in general. [For example,] the side curtain airbags we have in the cabs. Again, the cost benefit is there for us. We want to keep them safe."
Division Chief Kendall Warnock says the process of getting a new engine takes at least two years. To get them up and running, he says it takes what he calls "an army." He tells 10/11, "We turn these around in about 30 days. Actually, in 14 days, we had this out, fit, and ready to be put in service."
"Impactful." That's the word some LFR fire captains are using to describe what it means to have these new fire engines.
When an accident or fire breaks out on West "O" Street or in the Capitol Beach Area, it's engine 3 that comes to the rescue. The station's older engine was presenting challenges to firefighters the people of Lincoln didn't see or experience first-hand, but now, that's no longer the case.
The new engines include new computerized safety features like a seat belt sensor and improved airbags, which are a big part of keeping firefighters safe.
LFR Station 9's Captain Andy Evans says, "One of the other features on this new rig is it has multiple alarms that tell the pump operator if he's running low on water. Things like that that we haven't had in the past, we've got one set of lights here, and we've got two to three sets of lights that are changing colors."
Captain Andy Evans describes the new engines as being "intelligent." The new engines also have a faster and more efficient way of attaching the apparatus fire-fighters use to breathe with while taking out a fire.
For years, LFR Station 9 has battled with their engines going in and out of the repair shop. They say the old engine sometimes still failed them during calls, even after repeated repairs.
The last time Station 9 had a new fire engine was back in 2005. On Wednesday, January 8, 2020, Station 9 received a brand new engine. That engine responded to its first call just an hour after it went into service. It was an exciting day for firefighters at Station 9, as getting a new fire engine had been a long time coming.
Station 9's old engine constantly suffered from mechanical and electrical issues. Sometimes, firefighters weren't even able to make it to certain calls because their engine would break down and had to be towed. During those times, they would reach out and call stations close by for help. Now that they have their own new engine, they're more than ready to serve the people in the Bethany area.
"If you were to corner too fast, it senses that. If it starts to tip at a certain degree, it'll cut power to the throttle and actually either power up a certain wheel or something to dig on more traction on that side to keep you from any type of rollover activity," says Captain Andy Evans.
Fire officials say they don't know how much longer station 9 would have lasted with the old engine.
LFR officials tell us one of the goals of the new fire engines is to have them working in the area of Lincoln they're assigned to serve. The challenge in the past is that they simply weren't able to do that.
Bringing in the new fire engines is all part of an effort to update aging fire equipment around the city of Lincoln. As the Capital City grows in population, so does the need for additional fire resources. When the new fire trucks arrive, they are scheduled to go to designated stations.
Not all of the fire engines that are being replaced will disappear for good. The rigs being replaced will show up at other fire stations around Lincoln. Other older engines will be used as back-up trucks.
LFR's logistics team will decide what exactly will happen to the old engines. However, the new engines are going to make it that much easier for firefighters to provide service to the people of Lincoln.
All in all, the overhaul cost is about 3.5 million dollars. Official push-in ceremonies will be announced by the fire department within the next two weeks.