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County fires up new engines today

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

The Clayton County Department of Fire and Emergency Services is adding three, shiny, new fire engines to its fleet of trucks.

"They're three state-of-the-art replacement trucks, which will basically replace three of our older front-line engines," said Battalion Chief Landry Merkison. "That will allow us to roll some of our better-conditioned, older trucks into reserve," he said.

The new trucks were designed to be more "user friendly," according to Clayton County Fire Capt. Tim Sweat.

"When we originally sat down to design these trucks, we tried to produce a truck that was firefighter friendly," Sweat said. "We've lowered several things on the truck that are used quite frequently on the scene.

"[For example] all of the hoses that are laced on the truck -- everything has been lowered to avoid having to step up to them -- more on eye level," he said.

Sweat said the biggest change in the new trucks will be more obvious to area residents.

"The biggest thing is the addition of our new name," he said. Last year the department changed its name from the Clayton County Fire Department to the Clayton County Department of Fire and Emergency Services, according to Sweat.

"These three new trucks are the first to bear our new patch and logo," he said.

The new trucks are scheduled to be placed into service today, according to Merkison.

One of the new trucks will be placed at Fire Station One, located on Garden Walk Boulevard East, in Riverdale, next to Southern Regional Medical Center, according to Merkison.

Another will be stationed at Fire Station Three, on Battle Creek Road in Jonesboro, in the parking lot of Tara Stadium.

The third truck will go to Station 14, on South Park Boulevard in Ellenwood, which Merkison said opened in October 2008 and is the department's newest fire station.

Each fire engine cost $345,505, according to Sweat.

"The debt service on them is being paid by the new SPLOST [Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax] that the county approved," said Merkison. "That was one thing that the county put into the public safety SPLOST -- was to pay off the new vehicles, so they won't be financed."