San Jose firefighters unveil new life-saving truck
San Jose firefighters on Saturday unveiled a new ALS fire truck that can be used to fight disastrous blazes across the state. Photo by Fernanda De Velasco.

After several years of destructive wildfires in California, San Jose firefighters on Saturday unveiled a new fire engine that costs close to $1 million but could travel the state to help extinguish disastrous blazes.

“We build it from the ground up to make sure we get all the equipment we want and need in there,” said San Jose Fire Chief Robert Sapien.

The new fire engine, which was on display at Fire Station 14 at 1201 San Tomas Aquino Rd., also has the ability to save lives here at home because of its advanced medical equipment. Nearly 100 people gathered at the station Saturday to catch a glimpse of the new Advanced Life Support (ALS) engine, tour the station and learn hands-free CPR.

According to fire officials, the new engine operates more efficiently and offers a smoother ride. In connection with the Cancer Initiative, which outlines decontamination protocols to help prevent cancer, the new engine comes with extra space where firefighters can store their air bottles to limit exposure to hot gases.

The San Jose Fire Department currently has a total of 45 ALS apparatus, but costs for such equipment has gone up in recent years due to the rising cost of steel.

“This new engine focuses more on medical aid and fire, and around 75% of our calls are for medical aid,” said San Jose fire captain Aaron Freyler.

On Saturday, local firefighters assisted children in going inside the engine and ringing its bell as others tried out the new water hose.

“I still get the same feeling as if I was a kid walking around the station,” said Vice Mayor Chappie Jones, whose district includes Fire Station 14. “I get excited to see and learn about all the equipment.”

Firefighters on Saturday also displayed other life-saving equipment at the San Jose station, including the LUCAS Device, a machine that provides CPR and isn’t available at every station. Freyler said these devices can save lives by doing CPR while firefighters tackle other tasks.

Jones said the device has improved survival rates for cardiac arrest patients in San Jose by 10 percent. “I see the LUCAS device as motivation to raise funding for new equipment around the area,” he said.

San Jose resident Aurora Allen brought her grandkids to the event Saturday to show them the inside of a fire engine but said the event provided an important opportunity for them to meet and interact with first responders.

“I want to teach the kids that emergency people aren’t someone to be afraid of,” Allen said.

Contact San José Spotlight intern Fernanda De Velasco at fernanda.develascojimenez@sjsu.edu.

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