KOLOA — Former firefighter and Kauai Councilmember Mason Chock said the county’s new ladder truck is a benchmark that was long awaited.
“We need to be able to service the community properly,” said Chock, who was with the Kauai Fire Department for 12 years. “The quint is able to provide that — that’s been missing for a long time. I opened this station. It used to be right over there by the park. This should have came a long time ago with that transition. I’m happy to see it.”
About 75 people gathered at Koloa Fire Station on Friday for the blessing of KFD’s first aerial apparatus engine. The engine was funded by a 2014 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant called the Assistance to Firefighters grant, which totaled $791,000.
The quint’s price tag came in at $774,000, said Deputy Fire Chief Kilipaki Vaughan, who added that 90 percent was funded by the FEMA grant, while the remaining 10 percent was paid for by the County of Kauai KFD.
Vaughan said the quint has five functions: it work as a pump as well as a mobile water tank, it carries fire hoses, has a mobile aerial device (ladder) and also carries ground ladders.
The department decided to label the quint “Ladder” to make it simple, he said.
The quint “brings Koloa a lot more capabilities with the high-rise structures and the infrastructure in this particular area,” he said. “We’re thankful to FEMA for their consideration for us. It was a first-time application and we got funded.”
Fire Chief Robert Westerman said the apparatus will give KFD new capabilities.
“We call that an elevated waterway and we have an emergency egress ladder to get people out of taller buildings,” he said. “That’s kind of the most important thing. That allows us to provide better service to the citizens on Kauai.”
Rep. Dee Morikawa (D-16) said the inclusion of the quint will allow the fire department to better handle future catastrophes.
“Because we have a lot of development — two- or three-story buildings coming out on the South Shore — I think this is very important,” she said. “It will help get those attention to those fires. Heaven forbid if it ever happens. We hope it never does, but it’s good assurance to have a vehicle like this for the island.”
Morikawa said she hopes the Eastside will eventually be equipped with its own quint.