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Flagler Beach Fire Department Makes Pitch For $600,000 Fire Truck, Igniting Questions

| June 9, 2014

A quint Rosenbauer Viper similar to the one Flagler Beach Fire Captain Bobby Pace is proposing that the city buy this year.

A quint Rosenbauer Viper similar to the one Flagler Beach Fire Captain Bobby Pace is proposing that the city buy this year.

Kim Carney, who now chairs the Flagler Beach City Commission, could have predicted it all—and did, last year, when no one was listening to her: that it might be time to retire the city’s virtually useless ladder truck, that $70,000 worth of breathing equipment would be purchased, that the county fire department could provide maintenance for the city’s fleet. And that the Flagler Beach Fire Department would sooner than later be asking for a new fire truck.

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Now it has. At a strategy session late last month, and under the guise of requesting “fire safety equipment” (a slight deception carney did not appreciate, considering what she then heard), the fire department asked for a new, so-called quint fire truck—a sort of versatile hybrid that combines the capabilities of a ladder truck with those of a pumper and a water tank. The price tag: $540,000 to $600,000.

“I didn’t know what I was going to be presented with,” Carney said of the fire-safety presentation, “but I sure as hell didn’t know I was going to be presented with an aerial truck.” Or with the price tag.

“Expensive, very expensive,” City Manager Bruce Campbell said. “We’re talking about a half a million dollars so it’s a big consideration that has to be made. The thoughts are if it we’re approved by the commission, we would replace the Tower 11 with this quint.” Campbell added: “There seems to be an acceptance of the need, but until it’s approved by resolution at our second budget meeting, it’s not over until it’s over.”

And it may not be over until many questions are asked.

“I kind of said so,” Carney said, recalling the questions she actually asked last year, when the fire department was going through its latest convulsions and Carney had made several proposals, among them raising the possibility of consolidating services with the county or retiring the aged tower truck for good, without replacing it. “Anything that old I was kind of looking for a less aggressive time period to replace it. If you look at one of the questions I asked originally was, do we really need one, and the real technical question is, no, we don’t, and we don’t need a ladder truck because Palm Coast has one and the county has one.”

Palm Coast and the county routinely assist Flagler Beach in fire emergencies. In one recent fire where a ladder truck was needed, Carney recalls, “our truck didn’t even make it out of the garage. It was not in my opinion credentialed or certified. I asked them to abandon it last year. I got a bunch of ‘that will never happen, we still have a five or six years left,’ and now all of a sudden we’re asking for a new truck.”

Fire Captain Bobby Pace submitted the department’s plans to the city commission in a presentation entitled “Replacement Plan of Fire Safety Equipment” (see below) at a commission strategy session on May 29. Only one or two members of the public attended.

Pace noted that the city has been putting aside $50,000 a year into a fund Campbell created when he became manager. By Oct. 1, the fund will have $200,000. That would potentially pay for a portion of the new truck. The rest, Pace proposed, could come out of the city’s infrastructure tax fund, drawn from the city’s share of the half-penny sales tax levied by the county. The fund has about $1.2 million at the moment, and generates about $110,000 a year (less than it used to since the county, starting in 2013, changed the allocation formula, lowering cities’ share and raising its own).

“That’s a permissible use of those funds,” Campbell said, “or we could lease it, we could finance it, we haven’t gotten that far yet.”
Carney is not thrilled about using infrastructure dollars for a fire truck, even though it’s been done before.

Pace conceded in his presentation that the tower truck had been given a longer life until last year. “I initially hoped for and discussed the possibility of performing aerial operations from this truck for several more years during last year’s budget discussions,” he said in his presentation. “I now believe this is unrealistic.” And while the tower truck passed its last inspection, it’s incurred $5,000 in repairs—not an overwhelming amount, to Carney—with more repairs anticipated soon, such as safety features, the replacement of faulty hydraulic lines and the replacement of electrical equipment.


The so-called quint truck Pace is recommending would have a 75-foot ladder instead of a 95-foot ladder, but it would still be able to reach the overwhelming majority of structures in the city, most of which are two or three floors high. The higher structures would not be reached by a 95-foot ladder anyway. The quint would have a 450-gallong water tank instead of a 200-gallon tank on the tower. It would consume much less fuel. Its maintenance costs would be relatively low. And it would be customized to the city’s needs. The model Pace proposed is a Rosenbauer Viper. Its presence in the city would help the city’s ISO rating, from the Insurance Service Office, thus helping homeowners with their homeowners’ insurance rates.

Doubtful, says Carney. “They have to show me more than making it a broad statement like that,” the commission chairman said. “I don’t believe that our ISO will be affected at all if we don’t have an aerial truck stationed in Flagler Beach.”

Pace initially looked to remove the tower truck and engine 111 from circulation, replacing both with the quint. That would reduce maintenance costs further. But, he said, that would also negatively affect the city’s ISO rating. Instead, he is proposing to remove the tower truck but keep Engine 111 in reserve, using it “minimally,” and planning its replacement in subsequent years.

Campbell said he is “absolutely” including the new quint in the budget. “I think it’s a matter of when, it’s not a matter of if,” the city manager said. “If we’re going to be in the fire business, which we are and we’ve decided to be, and we’re going to have the adequate equipment to service for our community, that’s part of the need.” (There are no plans to enlarge the department’s personnel, which currently numbers seven paid firefighters including Pace, plus 29 volunteers.)

Carney, who speaks of “a billion questions,” is interested in having a workshop on the fire department’s requests. The commission meets for a its first budget session on July 1, when the requests are certain to be discussed. It’s still unclear, however, whether the commission as a whole supports the direction of the manager and the fire chief.

“They asked if there was enough consensus to continue the research. Well, I didn’t even know they were doing the research,” Carney said, noting that soon the department will be needing expensive new radios as the county switches away from its current 800 megahertz system. “But it is budget time and I guess this is that time when they’re going to do what they’re going to do.”

Fire Captain Bobby Pace’s Presentation on New Fire Equipment (2014)

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21 Responses for “Flagler Beach Fire Department Makes Pitch For $600,000 Fire Truck, Igniting Questions”

  1. Retired FF says:

    There is no possibly way that the City of Flagler Beach needs such a piece of equipment when there are two aerial trucks in the county now that never get used. There is a mutual aid/automatic aid agreement in place that can provide timely response of aerial trucks from Flagler County, Palm Coast, Volusia County and even the City of Ormond Beach. With there being a concern for the impact on the ISO rating, which does very, very little to effect residential insurance rates, I would think taxpayers money would be better spent eliminating the Ladder truck and putting the money toward a good first run Pumper. You could buy two Commercial Chassis Pumpers for the cost of the one aerial. Keeping a ladder truck that is so old with needing so many repairs is a very high liability to the City of Flagler Beach. The truck most probably should be taken out of service.

  2. Ron Boyce says:

    Actually a tower ladder equip with pumps would be the ladder of choice. It would be more versitale in areas with private dwellings and one or two story commerical structures. City of Palm Coast had recently purchase one .

  3. JoJo says:

    What! I guess the recession is over. Better put in a lot of meters for that price. How much is FB residents tax bill going up???

  4. Rick Belhumeur says:

    Last year we were assured that the existing ladder truck had several years life left in it. Flagler Beach has been setting aside $50,000 for the past three years in anticipation of buying a new fire truck for a price of around $300,000. They did this so that they wouldn’t have to dig up $300,000 all at once. Now they are suggesting just that. They are proposing that we need an engine for twice the cost. Two of the “infamous questions” asked last year were if we really needed a ladder truck and if it would change the ISO rating. The answer we got was “no” to both questions. The Flagler Beach Fire Department needs to spend it’s resources wisely in order to survive in this 21st century. There are other upgrades that are needed to keep up with the times. I was at that strategic planning session, and I left with the understanding that there would be a workshop inviting the public before the budget workshops began. I hope that they will do just that and with better transparency than calling it “proposed fire safety equipment”. Call a fire truck a fire truck!

    • Truth Seeker says:

      That was to replace Engine 111 that is going on 20 years old and needs to be replaced. The roof has significant rot, as well as other areas of the truck among other issues.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t they buy a Hyundai fire truck that cost only $325,000???

  6. Truth Seeker says:

    Ok folks, let’s take a few moments to look at some real facts here.

    1.) Part of Commissioner Carney’s statement was “our truck didn’t even make it out of the garage”. Let’s be fair, with the current staff there are less than 15 even certified to run the truth, and to the best of my knowledge, that number is closer to 12 or less.

    2.) Commissioner Carney believed it won’t impact the ISO rating? Really? Do some reading Commissioner, your sadly misinformed.

    3.) In Mr. Pace’s report, he states there has never been a plan to replace apparatus. This is entirely not true. It was set in motion by Chief Martin Roberts several years before, and has continued to be funded. Mr. Pace and Mr. Campbell are just taking the credit. Nothing new there.

    4.) On page 3, Mr. Pace notes a list of repairs to Engine 111. The city may want to re-consider some of those; or at least who is performing the work. Mr. Maddox was a volunteer with the department, under a title of “Lieutenant” for years; even though he not only held NO state firefighter certificate but also was not a certified Fire Officer. He should not even be in a hot zone. That’s neither here nor there. What IS relevant is Mr. Maddox is NOT an E.V.T. (Emergency Vehicle Technician); nor is he a mechanic. He can turn a wrench, but that doesn’t mean he can turn it right and it also doesn’t mean that if, and/or when someone gets hurt by and/or in a piece of apparatus he has touched that an attorney won’t rip that apart. Kinda like letting a first aid member perform brain surgery.

    4.) Page 4 states Tower 11 is NFPA compliant. That is not true either. Tower 11 is NFPA compliant in relation to the year it was built. It is not NFPA compliant to today’s standards.

    5.) Page 5 goes on to say one of the “repairs” they want to make is because of “No warning/safety features to alarm firefighter of improper setup that could result in tipping ladder and/or ladder failure”. Hmm. Aren’t the personnel operating this piece of apparatus state certified as Aerial Operators? This piece and many others haven’t had the LUXURY of this very nice type of option. If your educated, and experienced, you shouldn’t be setting up the apparatus wrong, nor should it tip, and you should be able to spot most impending ladder failures. Nice try, but that is fluff. If your trained, and pay attention, 95% of the issues states could, and should, be avoided.

    6.) On the same page, the cradle alignment light is broken? Really? So let’s spend $300 to fix a light? Let’s try looking down, as you should be when bedding a ladder, and seeing if it is aligned. It isn’t rocket science. It is either aligned, or it’s not. It’s a big ladder, not hard to miss.

    7.) Have any other bids been submitted? What other options has the department looked at? Any Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program attempts? How many members are actually certified to run the aerial apparatus and what is the department’s plan to deploy the apparatus so another case of Flagler County and/or Palm Coast bringing THEIR ladder truck(s) into the city while a nice new $600k truck sits in the bay, un-staffed?

    Nice truck, nice idea. I don’t see ANY real solid evidence of proper research, justification and grounds. If Flagler Beach is considering anything at all, I would consider increasing staffing to adequately run the department. All the nice, new shiny trucks in the world are no good parked in an apparatus bay.

    • Rick Belhumeur says:

      Less than a year after our “fiercely independent” commission decided to decline any help from the county, they are preparing to enter into an agreement with the county to perform the maintenance and repairs on the Flagler Beach apparatus. Just as I was thinking that it was a good idea to have the county perform maintenance on the Flagler Beach fleet…this request appeared.

    • Rick Belhumeur says:

      Less than a year after our “fiercely independent” commission decided to decline any help from the county, they are preparing to enter into an agreement with the county to perform the maintenance and repairs on the Flagler Beach apparatus. Just as I was thinking that it was a good idea to have the county maintain our fleet… this proposal appeared.

  7. Sparky says:

    Someone is proposing to spend $600,000 so that they can get a new truck that gets better fuel mileage? According to the United States Census Bureau, the city only has a total area of 4.1 square miles. How ridiculous!

  8. Gia says:

    If you want one buy one made in China, It’s bigger & much cheaper.

  9. Positive says:

    Once again the nay sayers come out of the woods. How are you to bash a department for bettering themselves and the safety of the public? Where were you when the County cut their manning to two man engines? I applaud the City for improving the services in public safety., and I applaud Bruce Campbell for backing his city. And that “little” fire dept has grown. New equipment, gear, SCBA, Lieutenants that are fire Officer Certified. All firefighters are pump operator/ driver engineer AND. Aerial operators. Not to mention all are Water Rescue Ops and some even Techs. Should I even mention they are going to Advanced Life Support soon! Good Job guys and gals!

  10. Truth Seeker says:

    The more I read the report, the more I am puzzled at the poor grammar and lack of justification to purchase this truck.

    Page 2 – “apparatuses” . Really?

    Mr. Pace states he wants to perform all this work to Engine 111. Has he done his research? When doing that much work to a truck, it can be considered a refurbishment. In a refurb, besides the standard engine overhauls, pump rebuilds, and valve replacements, NFPA upgrades include new seating with hands-free SCBA bottle holders, enclosed crew cabs, rear body Chevron striping, nonslip aluminum treadplate and handrails, and complete LED upgrade for both emergency warning lights and DOT lighting. There are two definitions for refurbishment in NFPA 1912. The standard designates them as Level I and Level II. According to the standard, Level I refurbishing is “the assembly of a new fire apparatus by the use of a new chassis frame, driving and crew compartment, front axle, steering and suspension components, and the use of either new components or components from an existing apparatus for the remainder of the apparatus.” It doesn’t sound like this is what Mr. Pace wants.

    Level II refurbishing is “the upgrade of major components or systems of a fire apparatus with components or systems that comply with the applicable standards in effect at the time the original apparatus was manufactured.” This sounds more along those lines, however Level I refurb vehicles must meet current NFPA 1901 or NFPA 1906, Standard for Wildland Fire Apparatus, requirements when completed. Level II refurbs must meet NFPA 1901 or 1906 standards in place at the time the vehicle was originally built. Fire departments must be familiar with these differences and write their specifications accordingly.

    Does Mr. Pace and the City know any of this? Have they even sought refurbishment for Tower 11?

    Apparatus manufactured to meet the 1991 and later versions of the standard OR apparatus that was refurbished in accordance with NFPA 1912, Standard for Fire Apparatus Refurbishing, should be the only vehicles considered for front-line service. To determine if the apparatus meets these recommendations, Annex D provides the following checklist. Has Mr. Pace checked this? Doubt it, so here it is:

    – Fully enclosed seating is provided for all members riding on the fire apparatus.
    – Warning lights meet the current standard.
    – Reflective striping meets the current standard.
    – Slip resistance of walking surfaces and handrails meets the current standard.
    – A low-voltage electrical system load manager is installed if the total continuous load exceeds the alternator output.
    – Where the GVWR is 36,000 pounds or more, an auxiliary braking system is installed and operating correctly.
    – Ground and step lights meet the current standard.
    – Noise levels in the driving and crew compartments meet the current standard.
    – Engine belts, fuel lines, and filters have been replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.
    – Brakes, brake lines, and wheel seals have been replaced or serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.
    – Tires and suspension are in serviceable condition.
    – All horns and sirens are relocated from the roof to a position as low and as far forward as possible.
    – Seat belts are available for every seat and are new or in serviceable condition.
    – Sign plates stating no riding on open areas are present.
    – A complete weight analysis shows the fire apparatus is not over individual axle or total GVWRs.
    – The fire pump meets or exceeds its original pump rating.
    – The alternator output meets its rating.
    – Water tank and baffles are not corroded or distorted.
    – A transmission shift pump interlock is present and working properly on vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission.
    – All loose equipment in the driving and crew areas is securely mounted to prevent its movement in case of an accident.
    – The radiator has been serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and all cooling system hoses are new or in serviceable condition.
    – If so equipped, the generator and line voltage accessories have been tested and meet the current standard.
    – If equipped with an aerial device, a complete test to original specifications has been conducted and certified by a certified testing laboratory.

    Maybe instead of worrying about a fancy new ladder truck, they should worry about making sure their front line trucks are safe and compliant and put together a professional, detailed report and analysis outlining the differences between manufacturer, make and model, ladder heights, tower ladder vs straight stick, etc. because this report looks like an 8th grader made it. It tells the residents of the City of Flagler Beach nothing. It states they want to dump an old truck with a bucket that holds 2, at a height of 95′ for a shiny new $600k truck (it will be more after options, you heard it here first) that only supports 1 at a time, at a height of 75′. Demand better presentation, better documentation and better research before just going and giving them more than half a million dollars for a new toy.

  11. D Kennedy says:

    Well said Positive says. It is funny an article is written about the fire dept and again without getting information from the department but from a commissioner. Great reporting. And to the 5 nah sayers of the depart (for the last 2 years) come by the station and get more information. You are more than welcome. Funny how people cannot use their real names.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Mr. Kennedy, you have a habit of making bitchy, snarky, false and anonymous comments here whenever articles about your fire department appear, which we’ve learned to hold back to spare our readers. You do it again, and we’re approving this one, to show your ways: the article is based primarily on Capt. Pace’s detailed presentation, and Pace’s own words, to the city commission. It includes the entirety of his presentation, which you might have glimpsed had you bothered to scroll to the bottom. And the article includes ample perspective from the city manager, who has more authority than Pace in these matters, and who actually supports the Pace initiative. Kim Carney is quoted as not only an opposing view, but as the chairman of the commission, as well as the one commissioner who has been involved more than any other in this issue. Commissioner Marshall Shupe aside of course: his conflicts of interest in the matter are legion, being an almost permanent fixture at the fire department as a “volunteer” and a fire inspector, and more than somewhat disqualifying him from having an objective perspective on the matter. This article is intended to bring out a significant matter of public interest and public policy, laying out at more length than you’ll see anywhere else the issues on all sides. In fact, no one else has reported this to date, and you betray a bit of chagrin that it was, finally, reported. As for you: we’re glad you gave your hypocrisy a holiday by using your actual name this time, but your usual shenanigans will not be further tolerated. We are also daily thankful for the thicker skins of our firefighters in the Palm Coast, Flagler County and Bunnell fire departments. We thought it was a pre-requisite of the job, given the heat in the proverbial kitchens on fire, but apparently not always.

      • Truth Seeker says:

        FlaglerLive,

        In a previous article (http://flaglerlive.com/57420/wood-bissonnette-lawsuit/), wasn’t it reported that former Firefighter Bissonnette “was suspended two days without pay in 2009 for making disparaging comments about fire-department related issues on a Flagler Beach community website”?

        I find it particularly shocking, and if I was Ms. Carney, offensive, that a city employee would get on a very highly trafficked news media site and essentially insult an official. But then again, I guess when one is not scared to “fudge” a job application, I guess they have nothing to fear after all?

  12. Barry K List says:

    Yet again you have opened the door to those who wish to belittle the efficient, effective and honorable leadership we have in this city and in the fire department.

    We have a team of loyal, hardworking, educated and dedicated firefighters, both paid and volunteer, who unfortunately have to defend their every move, but I do not think it is the right move to ask for $ 600,000 now.

    Make do with the little you have and you will make more friends on the commission and in the city. Just get rid of the ladder before you come to regret having it even more than you do now and respond with the vehicles you have.

    No amount of equipment will ever change your ISO rating.

    Shiny new toys are nice but most of the personnel in the fire department don’t pay taxes here!

  13. THE VOICE OF REASON says:

    I have an idea.

    Let’s let the Fire Captain go on a working vacation to look at the truck. At the company’s expense of course.

  14. Donna Heiss says:

    The fact is, the county needs another truck as well as ambulances and more staff to “man” them.

    Will it cost the taxpayers? Sure. Is it money well spent? Yep! Many will say no until they are the ones waiting for help to arrive. This is not the 80’s.

    Sell the old courthouse and the rediculous purchase of the old hospital to fund this needed equipment and staff. Take a loss if you have to.

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