By Chris Eversole
Craig Carruth was promoted to Mustang fire chief in December, and he is as busy as can be.
“When I show up, I can’t just think about my 24-hour shift,” he said. “I have to be able to project into the future. Before you know it, the future is here.”
Carruth is following up the planned addition of a second fire station that former Chief Carl Hickman started working on after voters approved an extension of the city’s one-cent sales tax in 2016.
Two major sales tax-funded projects that Carruth has led are buying a new ladder truck and adding staffing.
The committee working on the new ladder truck expects to complete specification for it by October, and the manufacturer will take more than a year after that to complete the vehicle, Carruth said.
The new ladder truck, which will cost more than $1 million, will extend 100 feet, a big jump from the 65-foot limit of the current 27-year-old unit that it is replacing.
The increased capability will be important as new buildings are constructed, such as the new four-story Hampton Inn that is expected to open next month, Carruth said.
“The new truck will make our operations a lot easier,” he said. “Our city leaders are helping us keep up with the demands of a growing community.”
The fire department filled a new position that the sales tax funded by hiring Kade Loupe as a firefighter in July.
The department now has 18 firefighters, allowing it to meet its goal of scheduling six per shift.
With the retirement of Hickman and Cpt. Mike DeFranco, the department made two promotions in addition to Carruth’s.
Jonathan Sprague moved to captain from lieutenant, and David Small moved from corporal to lieutenant.
The department filled the vacancies caused by the retirements by hiring firefighters Morgan Peck and Logan Burk.
As it buys new equipment, the department is focused on safety.
Part of this year’s purchases is a sophisticated protective clothing dryer that will aid in getting firefighters’ protective clothing back in service more quickly.
The new ladder truck will be equipped with a “clean cab design” to keep contaminants out of the cab.
“A lot of cancer has been traced to contaminants that firefighters are exposed to,” Carruth said.
“We want to make sure that when our new hires retire, they will retire healthy.”
Once Carruth has ordered the new ladder truck, he will work with his staff on plans for the second fire station.
The city has acquired land on the north side of State Highway 152 at the intersection of Ross Terrace, which is midway between Morgan Road and County Line Road.
The new fire station will improve response times for homes east of Mustang Road.
Mustang continues to have a 2 rating from ISO (the Insurance Service Office), which it reached a year ago.
“It’s outstanding to be in the top 3 percent of fire departments nationally, and we’re proud of it, Carruth said.
“I credit Chief Hickman with getting us to this rating, and I’m working to maintain it.”