Saranac Lake Fire Department


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Historic Snorkel 149 Retired
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By SLVFD News Room
October 8, 2011

This morning Head Fire Driver Rick Yorkey made the following communication over the Radio...

"Franklin County Dispatch we have Snorkel 149 out of service indefinitely and Ladder 144 in service" Franklin County Dispatch repeated the message back and noted the time as 09:40am."

With that message a truck with (42) years of service, a truck that fought many historic fires, and a truck that saved at least 7 lives at the Berkley Hotel Fire was retired. We are extremely excited about the arrival of the new Ladder 144 but we remain nostalgic about the retiring Snorkel 149.

Snorkel 149 is a 75 foot articulating Pitman Snorkel. It does not have a pump or a tank and relies on other fire trucks to supply water. It was purchased in 1969 new for approximately $69,000

The New Ladder 144 is a 1990 KME Grumman that was completely refurbished in 2000. It is equipped with a 102 foot Aerial Cat Ladder Tower. Unlike Snorkel 149 the New Ladder 144 is equipped with a 1750 gallon per minute pump and a 250 gallon tank. New trucks of this stature can cost over 1 million dollars, but, after an extensive search the Village of Saranac Lake was able to purchase this truck from the Bushnell's Basin NY Fire Department for $143,000.00.

Saranac Lake acquired the new truck in August when Chief Keough, Head Fire Driver Rick Yorkey, and Village of Saranac Lake Head Mechanic Wayne Voudren made the Trip to Bushnell's Basin and drove it back to Saranac Lake. Since August under the supervision of Head Mechanic Voudren the truck has undergone some overhaul including touch up paint, new lettering, seals on the hydraulic system have been replaced, and a new breathing air system has been installed. The radios and equipment then had to be removed from Snorkel 149 and installed on the new truck.

On August 22nd prior to its completion, Ladder 144 was forced into emergency service when it responded to a structure fire in Tupper Lake. All involved agreed the truck performed excellently.

You may be wondering why the new truck is designated as Ladder 144 and not 149. The old Ladder 144 was retired in the late 1990's and the designation 144 has been held in reserve. The new vehicle is technically a ladder truck and not a Snorkel. Old ladder 144 was a 1950 American LaFrance equipped with multiple ground ladders and did not have a mechanical ladder. It was equipped with a 750 gallon per minute pump. New Ladder 144 has a 1750 gallon per minute pump. In addition to the 102 foot ladder tower and greater pumping capacity, New ladder 144 also carries a full complement of ground ladders similar to those that were carried on old ladder 144.

The new Ladder 144 is taller and heavier than Snorkel 149. Housing the new truck has required the doors in the second bay of the fire house to be raised to a higher level and the floor will have to be reinforced to hold the heavier weight. The doors have been raised however Ladder 144 will be stationed at the village garage until the floor reinforcement is complete.

The SLVFD was a pioneer in the area of Aerial ladders becoming one of the first departments in the area to have this capability. Snorkel 149 was placed in service in 1969, Malone added aerial capability in approximately 1974 and Lake Placid in 1985. Saranac Lake has numerous structures that require this capability; some examples are both of the seniors high rises, the Hotel Saranac, Trudeau Institute, Adirondack Medical Center, and Adirondack Correctional Facility. Snorkel 149 has provided mutual aid as far away as Malone, and Ausable Forks. New Ladder 144 will carry on this proud tradition.


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Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department
100 Broadway
PO Box 509
Saranac Lake NY 12983


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