By Briana Vannozzi, NJTV
Its rebirth as a bustling urban center replete with tall buildings is a source of pride in Jersey City, but it’s also forced the city Fire Department to rethink the way it goes about its job.
On Monday, city officials unveiled what they said will be a big piece of the solution to that puzzle – a new, three-stage firetruck that will help city firefighters battle blazes at the upper reaches of the growing crop of skyscrapers rising along the Hudson River waterfront and elsewhere in the state’s second largest city.
“We have nine out of the 10 largest high rises in the state of New Jersey now. Many of them are larger than 500 feet,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “We have the largest buildings in the state of New Jersey, both commercial and residential, and so this is a further investment to make sure that we’re keeping our residents safe.”
The city’s new rig is specially designed to battle the toughest blazes, those that occur in the far-reaching floors of tall buildings, officials said. Its powerful pumps will allow firefighters to get more water on a high-rise fire faster and much more simply.
Its power is matched by a high level of intelligent engineering. “This is the brains of it,” said Jersey City Fire Chief Steven McGill, as he showed off a complex panel of dials and gauges.
The new truck doubles the water pressure of standard engines to 1,000 pounds, allowing it to surpass the standpipes system firefighters currently rely on to reach upper floors.
“In the past we would hook 2 or 3 trucks together and feed water to each one to get higher pressures out of the end rig to get water into a building,” said Deputy Chief Henry DiGuilio. “This apparatus, we don’t need to do that.”
The rig, which officials say is the first of its kind in use in the state, costs nearly $700,000. The city anticipates needing another in the future, if development continues at this rate.
The new truck builds on other steps taken by the city Fire Department recently.
“We have more fire companies on duty, we’ve hired about 200 firefighters, but they really need the equipment to make sure that they can do the job,” Fulop said.
So far, the department hasn’t had any incidents it couldn’t reach. But there have been issues with fires at high-rises under construction. Officials say the new truck would have made their response faster and safer for everyone.
“Right now there’s about 5 or 6 what we call mega high-rises in the city, which is high-rises over 450 to 500 feet,” McGill said.
Preparation will be rigorous for the fire companies, officials say. Working with such high pressure water can cause catastrophic injuries. “So before this goes into service they’re going to know this truck inside and out,” DiGuilio said.
The department worked with the FDNY on training and information.
The chief expects to put the new rig into rotation with the regular trucks once training is complete in the next two weeks. It won’t be used exclusively for skyscrapers.