Highland News Leader

Highland looks to bolster fire department with two used trucks

Highland Fire Department set to purchase two new trucks

Highland's fire department will purchase two new firetrucks in an effort to upgrade its aging fleet.
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Highland's fire department will purchase two new firetrucks in an effort to upgrade its aging fleet.

Highland’s interim fire chief said Friday two firetrucks the city plans to purchase will replace the department’s oldest engines and give the fleet a much-needed upgrade

The fire department is set to purchase two used firetrucks from New York’s Levittown Fire District. These will replace two of Highland’s oldest engines.

Interim Fire Chief Brian Wilson said the trucks, along with the plans for a new public safety building and renovation of the Broadway station make 2019 a big year for the department.

The two trucks are currently being inspected to meet qualifications for the sale, which was a requirement from the City Council. The trucks are a 1995 and 1998 Pierce Lane Pumper.

Wilson said the two new pumpers are replacing two older trucks that are no longer compliant with National Fire Protection Associations standards. He said, beyond that, the two new trucks will give the department several new abilities.

“Obviously, with a 40-year-old truck — it was great when it was new and it does still work — but it’s not compliant in any way anymore,” Wilson said. “We’re trying to upgrade the fleet.”

Onboard phone systems, the ability to respond to hazardous material incidents, increased pumping and water hauling capabilities are among the biggest gains from the new trucks. But Wilson said the biggest plus is the trucks hauling capacity, which will allow the department to put 20 firefighters, roughly half the department, on the two trucks.

Highland Fire Truck
One of the two new firetrucks Highland plans to purchase in 2019. The trucks will replace two aging firetrucks that are no longer compliant with the National Fire Protection Association. Provided

The two new trucks both have under 50,000 miles on the engine. Wilson said two trucks are used but still are a big jump in quality for the department. So much so that the two trucks will be put on front line duty if purchased.

“They’ve been maintained very well buy the current owners,” Wilson said. “They’re half the age of the ones we’re replacing.”

If the trucks pass inspections the department will pay $100,000 for both. Wilson said while the trucks are used, getting two used engines for that amount is much better than getting one new for roughly $500,000.

“We are doing this for the fraction of the cost of a new truck,” Wilson said. “One new truck starts at $500,000. That’s no options, no frills, nothing on it. These trucks have nice items on it at no extra cost.”

Purchasing two used trucks gives the department the ability to upgrade the fleet and down the line possibly purchase a new truck when truck funds are replenished.

“The way we operate here, those trucks should last us another 10 to 15 years easy before we can replenish our truck fund a bit and maybe be able to buy a new truck down the road,” Wilson said.

There are a few different routes the city can take with the old trucks, either selling them or donating them. Wilson said they most likely won’t sell for much but noted cities with old firetrucks often donate them to Third World countries.

Wilson added that Highland’s public safety workers are excited as the first month of the 2019 winds down. He said this next year should set up Highland’s safety departments up for the next decade.

“You’re getting your facilities upgraded — we’re excited about that, its been a long time coming — and now we’re going to get some new apparatuses,” Wilson said. “New to them. They’re not brand new but they are going to give them new tools to work with and they’re very pleased about that.”

Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.
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