By Rusty Bradshaw
There could be two new fire engines added to the Sun City Fire and Medical Department fleet by this time next year.
Fire district board members heard a proposal from Fire Chief Ron Deadman during the Dec. 12 workshop meeting about purchasing two new engines using voter-approved bond funds. The board was expected to act on the proposal during its Dec. 19 regular business meeting 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19 at the district administrative headquarters, 18602 N. 99th Ave.
The new trucks would replace aging vehicles in the Sun City fleet.
“We have an aging fleet,” Mr. Deadman said.
Sun City fire officials took delivery of a refurbished truck in November and has their ladder truck in Nevada now being refurbished by Firetrucks Unlimited. However, part of the $10 million bond request approved by in November 2016 called for fire officials to purchase two new trucks.
Acting on the recommendation of the department’s apparatus committee, which included five firefighters, Mr. Deadman proposed purchasing two trucks from Sutphen Fire Apparatus. The proposal was a departure of sorts from past practice when most new trucks came from Pierce.
One of the factors in recommending Sutphen was more access to parts, according to Sun City Fire Capt. Rob Sschmitz.
“That was one of the factors we looked at,” he said. “Right now it takes quite a bit of time to get parts for a Pierce engine because they are very proprietary.”
Fire officials are experiencing that with the refurbished truck received in November. The truck was damaged in a collision when a driver blew through a traffic signal.
“That is a pierce truck and we have been waiting on parts for a while,” Mr. Deadman said. “They say they are in the process of allocating those parts.”
Sutphen vehicles have more common parts that can be obtained at an auto parts store that handles commercial vehicles, the Mr. Schmitz explained.
He added the committee considered vehicles from Sutphen, Pierce and Rosenbauer. Each company brought trucks to Sun City to allow committee members to see them first-hand, Mr. Schmitz said.
Dave Scott, Sun City fire board member and a former firefighter in the East Coast, added his recommendation for the Sutphen trucks.
“My experience with Sutphen is that it is a very reliable brand,” he said. “They are well built.”
Cost was another factor as committee members and Mr. Deadman were able to negatiate the price to less than $500,000 per truck for a 196-inch wheelbase pumper truck.
“We can get them for $492,626 each,” he said.
Further, Sun City officials can reduce the cost another $7,902 per truck if they are paid for in full at time of purchase, making the cost $484,724.
That cost would include a modification to the current truck design that would have a storage compartment on the back of the truck for firfighters’ turnout gear — the heavy fire retardant clothing they wear during fires — rather than in the truck cab. Mr. Deadman said gases absorbed by the clothing during fire incidents tend to stay in the clothing if stored in a compartment inside the cab, a second enclosed space. However, if stored in a compartment on the back of the truck they would have the opportunity to air out more being in a less air-tight environment.
“That reduces the exposure to the firefighters,” Mr. Deadman explained. “If we move forward with these trucks, eventually we would modify our existing vehicles with the same storage outside the cab.”
Fire board member Jack Leonard questioned why department officials were advocating purchasing new vehicles rather than continuing to refurbish existing trucks.
“I thought the refurbished trucks were supposed to be as good as new,” he said.
Mr. Deadman said the ISO rating criteria call for refurbished trucks to be redone after 10 years while a new truck would have a lifespan of up to 20 years. The availability of parts also comes into play for refurbished vehicles.
“That is why our refurbishments are taking longer than we expected,” he said.
Mr. Scott also said a refurbishment does not replace every item on a truck, it is mostly center on rebuilding engines, transmissions and other mechanical power train systems.
“We have had some issues with our refurbs because they don’t replacing wiring, piping for pumps and other cab components,” he said.
If the fire board approves the purchase it could take 7-11 months to receive the trucks as they are custom built from the wheels up, Mr. Deadman said.
IF YOU GO:
What: Sun City Fire District Board of Directors
When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19
Where: Fire district administrative office, 18602 N. 99th Ave.