Gilbert fire dept. commissions ladder truck nicknamed for captain


The Gilbert Fire & Rescue Department on March 23 commissioned a ladder truck for Station No. 9, one that comes with a nickname.

Fire & Rescue’s L259 is known as “Big Nelly,” named after Gilbert Fire Battalion Chief James Nelson, who died Aug. 1 from cancer.

Nelson served on the Gilbert Fire & Rescue Department force for 25 years.

The truck’s ladder has a 107-foot reach, and the truck can carry 470 gallons of water with with a master stream nozzle capable of flowing 1,500 gallons per minute, according to Gilbert Fire & Rescue Capt. Mark Justus.

The truck is the first apparatus in Gilbert with battery-powered extraction equipment, commonly known as the “Jaws of Life.” In fact, the truck specializes in extraction and forcible entry, Justus said.

The truck also is engineered with a shorter wheelbase for increased maneuverability, Justus said.

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Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.
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