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'Game changer': Ladder truck added to Dawson County Fire Department fleet
Dawson County Ladder truck 1

A fire suppression ladder truck has been added to the Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services fleet for the first time in the department’s history, an addition that local officials say will help save lives as Dawson County grows. 

Dawson County Fire Chief Danny Thompson said that the purchase of the ladder truck will greatly enhance the fire department’s ability to serve Dawson County citizens. 

“The tallest ladder before the board approved this was a 24-foot ladder, and if you look at a normal residential house we always say 10 foot per floor,” Thompson said. “So if the house was a two-story house we could get to it, but if it was greater than two stories we had to call for help from Forsyth County.”

Thompson said that as the county grows, it’s important for the fire department to grow with it, in order to effectively protect every citizen in the community. 

“As the county grows, this is one of those things that enables us to have growth within our infrastructure, so now instead of having to rely on other counties to help us out we have one of our own now,” he said. “We’re very appreciative of the support that the board of commissioners has given to the fire and EMS; as we grow we have to continue to grow our infrastructure to be able to provide a level of services that the citizens deserve and expect.”

Thompson said that he and the rest of the department are excited for the new addition and the improvements to the department it will bring with it. 

“To be quite honest with you it’s a game changer,” Thompson said. “The men and women here are super excited about it because we’ve never had a ladder truck and operated one on a daily basis.” 

The purchase of the truck was approved by the Dawson County Board of Commissioners at their Dec. 3 meeting, and it was delivered to the fire department on Dec. 7. 

The truck is a 107-foot Pierce Ladder Truck, which cost just under $1.2 million and will be funded through SPLOST 6 funding. 

According to Thompson, the truck came with several upgrades already installed, including upgraded lighting, front TAK-4 suspension, side roll frontal impact protection, side and backup cameras, a stokes basket, extended front cab, collision avoidance and rear steps. 

The truck is now being upgraded further and will soon be returned to the department after the upgrades are completed. After the truck is returned to Dawson County, the men and women in the department will be trained on how to operate the new truck and its equipment.

“Once it gets here we’ll probably have another two months worth of training before we put it in service, cause we’ve never had one so we don’t want to rush to put one in service and we wanna make sure we do it right,” Thompson said. “We anticipate that by early spring it’ll be in service.”

Once the truck is officially in service, the department will host a “wet-down” ceremony that will be open to the public. 

“Hopefully if we get this COVID stuff behind us we’ll have a wet down ceremony so the public can come out and help push it back into the bay,” Thompson said. “As tradition has it, when you put a new truck in service you pull the old one out and the old one is used to wet down the new truck, and then we get everybody to help push it back in the bay.” 

Thompson said that while the truck will be used by the fire department, in the end it’s for the whole community. 

“The public loves us and we love our citizens; it’s their fire truck, it really is,” Thompson said. "It’s not the fire department’s, every citizen in Dawson County owns it and we just get to drive it every day and we’re excited about that.”