Westminster Volunteer Fire Department is gearing up a fund-raising campaign to buy a new ladder truck to replace its 26-year-old model.
Since last year, the department has had a committee working to determine what type of truck would meet the changing needs of a growing community, and provide up-to-date technology.
And soon, the fire company will be seeking donations from area residents.
"We're looking at basically an upgraded ladder truck," said Fire Chief Jay Nusbaum. "There's been a lot of advancements in technology and equipment since 1969, when we bought this [current] truck."
The Westminster company expects to spend $600,000 to $650,000 for the new vehicle. The company started a truck fund five years ago. It contains about $150,000.
When the new truck is ordered, the Fire Department will apply either to the county or a local bank for a low-interest loan for the balance, the chief said.
What the department needs now is the community's support. Several fund-raisers are planned to increase the truck fund, and firefighters hope that residents will show their support by participating in the events.
Fire Department President James Bangerd III said volunteers are conducting a door-to-door canvass of neighborhoods to solicit donations from city residents. Residents who make a donation can receive a free color family portrait.
Programs about the Fire Department will be taken to area civic organizations in an effort to garner support.
A country-western show is being planned for the fall, as well as activities to be held in conjunction with area organizations so that both can benefit.
"Working with other groups makes us more of a community fire station," Mr. Bangerd said. "We want people to come in and see the station and the equipment we have."
The Westminster Sons of the American Legion have donated $1,000 for the new truck, and the Lions Club and Elks Lodge also make donations to the department, Mr. Bangerd said.
Westminster's old truck is an American LaFrance with a 100-foot extended aerial ladder.
So far, the research committee has looked at five manufacturers of ladder trucks that have a variety of equipment.
The committee has ridden some of the trucks around Westminster to see how they handle on the streets and in other areas where the station provides emergency coverage.
With only two aerial ladder trucks in the county, the Westminster company also must be aware of places where the truck must respond on mutual aid calls in other parts of the county that have narrow, winding roads or small bridges.
"We have a subcommittee for fact-finding so we can meet the new standards for equipment," Chief Nusbaum said. "Our goal is to start writing our specifications by the end of June and send them out to the companies for prices so we can vote on a truck by November."
Chief Nusbaum said the committee is looking at a tower basket on the end of the ladder as a safety tool.
"We have to make sure we have the maneuverability we need with a basket," he said. "We've looked at some with a basket and so far we've been pleased with what we've seen."
The new truck would have at least a 100-foot ladder.
The committee also is considering getting the truck with a water pumper for added versatility.
"Our truck was top of the line in 1969, but there have been changes in the hydraulics in the ladder, compartments for equipment and different aspects of rescue we've had to modify," Chief Nusbaum said. "With a new truck, all the equipment would be right there."
Anyone wishing to donate to the truck fund can call the station at 848-1800.