News Saugatuck/Douglas Commercial Record

STFD eyes freeway safety truck

By Scott Sullivan

Editor

The Saugatuck Township Fire District is exploring acquiring an estimated $201,273.52 Traffic Management Apparatus to ensure staff and public safety, especially during freeway crashes. Individual donations toward that end total $9,500 so far.

“Since 2019,” chief Greg Janik has apprised member municipal government boards and councils, “our firefighters responded to 207 incidents on highways, exposing them to significant risks due to fast-moving traffic and increased traffic volume. 

“This represents 1,198 personnel who were exposed and at risk on the roadways,” Janik said.

The district’s current cone-deployment method involves staff walking down the roadway protected by a tanker truck and arrow board following them, he explained.

“As distracted driving and other challenges increase,” Janik said, “we have had many near-miss incidents where personnel were nearly hit.

“Additionally, if one of the tanker/pumpers was hit in a collision and sustained damage beyond repair, a replacement would currently cost more than $750,000 each and would take 24 months to build. 

“Our insurance carrier, MMRMA, will not provide replacement cost value coverage on our tanker/pumpers because they exceed 15 years old, and coverage is limited to actual cash value. 

“The TMA truck will not only protect all first responders but also our costly apparatus,” the chief continued.

“The Scorpion MASH attenuator (device shown mounted on the flatbed’s rear) is also designed to protect the motoring public if they were to collide with it.

“The proposed truck,” Janik continued, “will be equipped with state-of-the-art traffic control devices, emergency lighting, and communication systems to facilitate quick and effective response to incidents on the highway and other roadways.

“By investing in this TMA truck,” he went on, “we will be achieving the core mission to significantly reduce the risk of accidents and injuries to our personnel and all first responders and motorists during highway incidents.”

Presentations have been met by Saugatuck and Douglas city councils, as well as the Saugatuck Township Board, with interest and appreciation for donations already made. 

None have committed to paying for shares of such a device as yet.

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