BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Bloomfield Fire Department has a new rescue/pumper engine at Firehouse No. 3 on East Passaic Avenue. It is a specially made vehicle, capable of carrying 780 gallons of water and rescue equipment to a fire scene. Costing $470,000 and weighing 46,840 pounds, the vehicle was specially designed by the department. Firefighter Derek Hernandez, who drives the vehicle, pointed out several improvements. He said it has more room for specialized EMS equipment, a significant advantage because the BFD now responds to roadway accidents.
The vehicle also has a separate compartment to store the protective gear worn while fighting a fire. Hernandez pointed out that, after a fire, gear is covered with particles from the blaze. He said this was a big concern, as firefighters have a high incidence of cancer, due to the materials of modern home construction and furnishings.
“The fires burn hotter and quicker because of the materials in use around the home,” he said. “When they burn, they create carcinogenic particles.”
A firefighter’s gear is covered with these particles and, ordinarily, the gear would be transported with the firefighter. Now, it is in a separate area. The doors of the driver’s cabin, when open, also have warning lights to alert oncoming traffic.
A pumper truck begins the process of firefighting because it carries water to the fire scene, Hernandez said, and getting the water into the hose is done with the flip of a switch on the pump panel. But 780 gallons of water does not last long; only about five minutes. The water in a pumper is for a quick suppression, while other vehicles hook up hoses to hydrants.
Hernandez said, when first arriving at a fire scene, a firefighter wants a three-sided view of the building and signs of smoke. Knowledge of the building’s construction is also critical.
The new pumper draws attention from other fire departments when the BFD arrives in response for mutual aid.
“When we pull up, they know we’re ready to work and ready to face any challenges,” Hernandez said. “There’s a lot more tools in this toolbox. And when you get behind the wheel, you feel ready for duty.”
The pumper that is being replaced, Fire Chief Lou Venezia said, will be donated to La Vega, in the Dominican Republic.
Photos by Daniel Jackovino