The Palm Coast City Council Tuesday approved buying the city’s newest fire truck, a $374,000 Custom Pumper Pierce Arrox XT that replaces Engine 25. The city fire department has had that fire truck since 1995. It has logged 169,000 miles since. “Fire trucks typically don’t go that long with that kind of mileage. That’s just crazy stuff,” Fire Chief Mike Beadle said.
The old truck will be retired. The new one, which is due to be built in Appleton, Wis., in December, will be here by year’s end or the first week of 2011, after local fire department officials inspect it. The new truck is due to last 25 years, 15 of them as a front-line truck. After 15 years, it will be rotated to the department’s secondary line, used primarily by volunteer firefighters. The Palm Coast Fire Department has nine fire engines, a ladder truck, a tower truck, an “attack truck” (used to fight brush and wild fires in the woods) and two large military type trucks converted into fire trucks, on loan for a nominal fee from the Division of Forestry.
You can read the new fire truck’s complete specifications here, as outlined in a Florida Sheriff’s Association memo. Palm Coast is buying the truck through the association’s bidding system.
“Are hoses extra? I didn’t see them anywhere on the list,” Council member Frank Meeker asked somewhat in jest. But it was a question worth asking: Generally, a new truck involves additional costs in fire apparatus.
Fire Chief Mike Beadle answered the question seriously: “We actually have some of the equipment from some of the trucks we’re taking out of service and using what we can to put onto the new apparatus so we don’t have to purchase. As we go through in our normal yearly budgets and we replace those things, we have the equipment needed, so we’re in pretty good shape in taking those trucks out of service. We’re just using the same equipment.”
The department was looking for a slightly less expensive alternative by going with a 2009 engine. But those were not available, having been replaced by the 2010 engines that reflect new emission standards. Those engines are more expensive. Otherwise, the fire truck is similar to its predecessor. “That’s a steel frame, aluminum body. It’s basically the truck that we bought a few years ago,” Beadle said. “Same company, same manufacturer, same truck design. A little cab different, because they don’t make the cab that we got years ago.”
But those new standards entail a new and somewhat costly technology called SCR, or “Selective Catalytic Reduction,” which converts nitrogen oxide–part of the fire engine’s dirtiest emissions–into harmless nitrogen and water. “While it’s still too early to provide a specific cost,” Pierce’s website notes on the new technology, “industry experts have estimated the initial SCR system costs to range from $13,000 to $25,000 depending on the engine make, model, and size.”
Those costs have been incorporated into the contractual bottom line of the new truck, Beadle said.