By Jelani Gibson

For the Prosper Press

Prosper Fire Chief Stuart Blasingame confirmed that the department’s first ladder truck will be able to address the needs of a community that is growing in height just as much as it is in population.

An influx of large homes, commercial structures and apartments have caused a need for trucks that are capable of reaching higher structures, Blasingame said.

“Anything above 24 feet, we could not service,” he said. “We had to wait on another city to come in.”

Having been purchased for an estimated $1.4 million roughly 15 months ago, ladder trucks are made to meet the needs for each specific fire department, Blasingame said.

“These are not trucks that you can go to a lot and purchase, these are custom trucks, which is the standard throughout the United States. They’re custom for every department,” he said. “The size pump that goes on, the tools that go on them, the whole design, because everybody has different needs throughout communities. One community may need something completely different than we do.”

Those needs can be dependent on city’s layout and architecture, Blasingame said.

“For example, New York City, they’ve got high rises everywhere, a lot of their apparatuses are ladders,” he said. “Most stations have two companies - an engine company and a ladder company. We definitely passed a long time ago the need for where we needed a ladder truck, but we don’t need a ladder truck at every station here in Prosper.”

Gaining entrance to higher structures is a priority, Blasingame said.

“It will allow us to gain access to those buildings, it will allow us to gain access to the commercial buildings like the new hospital,” he said. “It allows us to do rescues out of apartments, out of homes, out of second floors …. depending upon the right spacing we can go nine to ten floors up with this truck.”

Future commercial projects under construction and development are also a focus, Blasingame said.

“We’ve got about two to three hotels that’ll be built in the next year, and those are all four-story. So before, we would never be able to access any of the floors. Now we’ll be able to access the roof,” he said. “Any injuries that occur during construction on higher floors, that (ladder truck) will allow us to bring them down to ground level to an ambulance without trying to use ropes, or harnesses or anything like that.”

Prosper residents Kristi Izquierdo and Jessica Kutz said they were glad their community has an additional first-responder asset to help their neighbors.

North Texas is prone to storms, which often cause fires that can impact residencies, Izquierdo said.

“We’ve had quite a few fires in the past couple of years due to storms because we’re in North Texas,” she said.

A ladder truck that’s able to serve all the residents of Prosper benefits the entire community, Kutz said.

“I’m very excited the fire department will be able to help us in a much broader way,” she said.