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From factory to fire: New truck helped fight flames

August 27, 2001|By DORA DEPAOLI, Staff Writer

HOLTVILLE — The city's newest fire engine was pressed into service last week before it even reached the fire station.

While on his way to Holtville from the factory with the new custom-built pumper, Holtville Fire Chief Charles Cariveau was notified of a second-alarm brush and structure fire as he approached town.

He drove directly to the site west of town on Alamo Road.

"We used it pretty much all night shuttling water," Cariveau said. "We didn't have any hoses on it yet."

At a cost of about $215,000 from the city's equipment replacement fund, the custom pumper was built at the Weststates Factory in Woodland.

Cariveau said he didn't attract much attention as he drove the state's freeways in the truck.

"With all the fires in the state it's a pretty common sight to see fire engines on the road," he said.


The new engine will be housed at least temporarily in the old Vogel's Hardware building on Fern Avenue. The metal building was formerly used to store Vogel's building materials.

The engine is too wide and too tall for the old fire station on Pine Avenue. that was built more than a half century ago. Sheet rock has been put up in the Vogel's building and some electrical work was done to house the three city engines and the county engine being kept there.

"To maintain current fire insurance rates we are required to have two first-line engines and one reserve engine," Cariveau said. "With the new engine we are able to meet those requirements. … We are in the process of trying to obtain a double-wide trailer to use as a temporary office and living quarters," Cariveau said. "We want to stress temporary."

The city is still trying to get funding for a public safety building. New regulations require public safety buildings be able to withstand 8.0 earthquakes. None of the buildings in the city qualifies.

The city is authorized for 27 firefighters in the city budget, including the chief and two full-time firefighters, with the rest being volunteer firefighters.

There are four openings in the department. The department has had lots of calls this summer and Cariveau is proud of the efforts of the city's firefighters.

"Just about every night there are calls and the men are up all night," he said. "They are an excellent and dedicated crew, putting it all on the line for the community for very little monetary return. I know the long hours puts a strain on their family life."

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