The Erie Fire Department’s trucks are aging. With council’s approval, the fire chief hopes to update his fleet so they can be sure to stay compliant.
The Erie Fire Department has a fleet of six trucks, one tower, and five pumpers responding to 6,000 calls a year, that’s about 1,000 runs per rig. The oldest truck is a 1987 back-up rig and the newest is from 2014.
With the daily wear and tear and harsh weather conditions in Erie, Chief Guy Santone says it’s time to update the fleet. “It’s not like driving a car, when these trucks go out they are pushed… they are worked hard,” Santone expressed the need for a new truck at the department’s budget session with City Council last week.
A new rescue pumper or tower truck can cost anywhere from $750,000 to $1.2 million completely outfitted. “We would like to get on a program where we get a new fire truck every four years. They were receptive to that and to what I had to say,” Santone tells us.
But the trucks are not only getting older, they are getting more expensive to fix. Mechanic Judd Spaulding says, “they have 50 to 60 thousand miles on them but they are city miles, full throttle to complete stop, it’s not highway easy miles on these trucks at all”.
Mechanics stay busy, not only with regular maintenance but dealing with larger repairs and discontinued parts. Discontinued parts include things as simple as the bulbs in the light bar. Now, only LED lights are available. Spaulding says, “we are getting into some expensive repairs now, pump repacking, pump transmission rebuilds, we put a whole new generator on engine 12 that was a $10,000 purchase. It’s not just the truck it’s the accessories on the truck that are old too”.
Santone says the department is looking into options to finance the trucks to keep any burden off the taxpayers. A final decision still rests in council’s hands.