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BP Donates Platform Truck to West Lakes

WEST LAKES FIRE STATION 71—An arc of water, 100 feet up the platform of a fire truck, rained down on a grassy yard outside the fire station last Thursday, displaying what Big Ben can do before a group of firefighters in uniform, who were exchanging laughs, shaking hands, and craning necks to take in the force of the 1,500-gallon-per-minute spray.

platformtruckwaterDSC 9704The platform fire truck is new to West Lakes Fire Department, thanks to oil giant BP, which donated the older, but well-maintained rig to the rural fire department. A new platform fire truck costs more than $1 million. The truck has protected structures on the North Slope for more than 27 years including helping put down a major drill rig fire in 2001, said Fire Chief Doug Frey, with BP. “I’m glad it will go to good use,” said Frey, who is also a hazmat responder in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

That oilfield-Mat-Su connection is what led to the local donation, the second large fire apparatus donation of its kind here. Fire Chief John Fairchild who works at Savant Alaska Oil Co. and also as Assistant Chief at West Lakes, and BP Firefighter Rocky Jones, a former Meadow Lakes retired fire chief, alerted the growing department to the surplus opportunity.

The fire chief of the local department, Bill Gamble, is all smiles.

“It could potentially lower our home insurance rates. When an ISO chiefslowresinspector rates a department they give more points for a platform fire truck with a basket on the end.”

ISO, Insurance Services Office, audits departments according to national standards and gives a rating, which insurance companies watch. West Lakes has an ISO rating of 5, among the lowest in the widespread Mat-Su. The classifications range from number 1 to 10. Class 1 means exemplary fire protection, and class 10 means minimal fire protection.

Gamble said although the truck can reach tall buildings, here it will be valuable for suppressing fire on large structures such as the nearby Three Bears grocery store, schools, and the Meadow Lakes Mall.

The fire department’s only expense was the shipping and transportation charge, less than $3,500, which Sourdough Express provided at cost, Gamble said.

westlakescrewState Rep. Mark Neuman attended and even tested out operating the platform. Neuman led the effort to secure $2.37 million toward a new fire station at milepost 52 of the Parks Highway.  ($8.5 million station, so far $5.1 million in funding) There are five stations now in the West Lakes Fire Service Area.

For more information contact Mat-Su Borough Public Affairs Director Patty Sullivan at psullivan@matsugov.us

Photos: top-The donated platform truck at work. Middle-Fire Chiefs, L to R, Chief Bill Gamble, Chief Doug Frey, Asst. Chief John Fairchild. Bottom-The West Lakes Fire Crew with BP Chiefs and Rep. Mark Neuman.

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