A 103-foot aerial truck, manufactured by Kovatch Mobile Equipment (KME) of Nesquehoning, has been purchased by Nesquehoning Hose Company No. 1.

The keys to the new green and white vehicle, which has gold trim and lettering, were presented Saturday to Fire Chief John McArdle by John Kovatch III, president and CEO of KME Kovatch.

McArdle says the new truck, a Model 103' Aerialcat Ladder, won't be put into service for about another month. Dedication is tentatively scheduled for June 2013.

The fire chief said the new vehicle replaces a 1981 Seagreaves which has a 100-foot ladder. The older truck will continue to be utilized until the new apparatus is placed in service.

It was explained by McArdle that before the new truck can be utilized, personnel from Nesquehoning Hose Company No. 1 must become certified to drive it. Such certification is a requirement of the grant the fire company received.

To become certified, drivers must pass a test which has six different stages, including driving and ladder operations. McArdle said 14 members of the fire company have signed up for the training.

The new vehicle cost $797,500. The fire company received a grant totaling $617,500 through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grants program. With the assistance of the borough council, it also obtained a 10-year, $180,000 loan.

KME, which is a global operation manufacturing fire apparatus not only for fire companies throughout the United States, but also building vehicles for many foreign countries, was happy to manufacture a vehicle for its hometown fire company, especially since over 100 of its employees reside in Nesquehoning.

McArdle said he's thrilled that KME got the contract to build the truck for the fire company, but the local firm had to go through a bidding process to secure the contract.

Six companies were given bid packages with KME being the lowest bidder.

It is the second KME vehicle that the Nesquehoning Hose Company No. 1 bought from KME. The other was a 2002 engine with a 1,500 gallons-per-minute pumper.

"This is a proud moment in the fire company history," remarked McArdle. "The hose company was founded in 1908, and this is only the second brand new ladder for the company since its inception. All of the rest of the units we bought used."

The fire company was notified on Jan. 13 that it was approved for the FEMA grant after trying to qualify for the past 11 years.

"The truck committee worked very closely with KME senior sales engineer Mark Boyle and spent countless hours on the project," he said, "poring over details and making sure that the apparatus was right for the community."

The new truck, listed as truck 1321 in the fire company, carries 198 working feet of ground ladders, 600 feet of five-inch supply line, compartmentation for tools and equipment, and an on-board cascade refilling system.

It has a 2,000 gallons-per-minute Hale pump and a 300-gallon water tank.

It operates on a 475 Maxxforce engine.

The vehicle has seating for six people.

The committee was comprised of members from the fire company along with three members of the borough council Public Safety Committee.

McArdle said as the truck was being built, members of the fire company were encouraged to visit the Kovatch plant and observe the progress.