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Belgrade Central Valley Fire unveils ladder truck at Fall Festival

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Sep 14 2013 05:47:55 PM MDT
BELGRADE, Mont. -

A specialized piece of equipment arrived at the Belgrade Central Valley Fire Department Friday, and Saturday, firefighters introduced Belgrade's first ladder truck at the annual fall festival.

Belgrade's Fall Festival is an annual tradition for many of its residents.

"We've been coming to the Hub Bar at eight o'clock for about 22 years now...We meet there, we have a group of us that meets there, and we hang out for a little bit and then we come out and watch the parade," explains Belgrade resident Jeff Wabeke.

For 50 years, folks say that tradition has united the community.

"Just seeing the community gather as a whole...There's nobody in Belgrade. Main Street's never crowded. You come and it's just an explosion of people," says Belgrade native Megan Crawford.

From the food to arts and crafts, activities and parade.

"Getting candy and getting to go do rock climbing," Belgrade residents Hailey and Megan Fabich tell us.

This year, the Fall Festival Parade also served to debut a resource firefighters say they've needed for more than two decades.

Belgrade Central Valley Fire Department leaders say Ladder 5-1 will be the Gallatin Valley's second ladder truck. Bozeman has the other one. They tell us it came from Texas and cost the City of Belgrade close to $400,000.

"They realized as the fire service realized that we needed to come together and make this happen," explains Belgrade Central Valley Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Strickler.

Strickler says Belgrade is a growing community and explains the ladder truck will greatly expand their capabilities.

"Buildings are getting taller, they're inhabited. People on the third floor, fifth story so, we have a way to get to those, to the individuals as well as take care of the fire itself," says Strickler.

Stickler showed us what makes this truck such a specialized piece of equipment.

The ladder extends 75 feet, allowing them to reach five and six story buildings. Before, ground ladders only got them 40 feet up in the air in extreme cases.

Plus, Strickler says the snorkel attached to the ladder will help firefighters suppress the blaze from above, that is, more efficiently.

"It's not just a ladder it's a fire fighting unit," says Strickler.

A unit, that through mutual aid efforts, can help better protect folks in the entire Gallatin Valley.

Strickler tells us the ladder truck wouldn't have been possible without the help of the late City Manager Joe Menicucci who died back in May of this year.