Lock Haven council talks about purchase of fire truck

LOCK HAVEN – The city will not be getting a FEMA grant for a new firefighting pumper truck. But the truck purchase still is a go.

City Council learned Monday that its application for a FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant was turned down. The local need for a new pumper scored high enough for the request to go to a peer panel review, FEMA reported, but ultimately, the request was not funded.

The pumper had originally won an Assistance to Firefighters Grant grant – when the Hand-in-Hand Hose Co. applied for it. However, that grant award was no good because the vehicle the pumper will replace is owned by, and titled to, the city, not the individual hose company.

FEMA advised the city to send in an application instead of the hose company, and the city did.

Its application, however, was one of 1,200 in this round of grant funding, City Manager Richard W. Marcinkevage reported. It’s a case of too many applications and not enough money to go around, he said.

The pumper is expected to cost $600,000, and the fire company plans to pay for half and house the vehicle at its fire station. The city will fund its half using money from the 20-year borrowing package set up earlier this year. That package included $300,000 toward the cost of this pumper, in case the grant did not come through.

The proposed new truck will be a Pierce. The 1989 Pierce now at Hand-in-Hand Hose Co. will move over to Hope Hose. The city’s oldest fire truck, a 1975 Mack at Hope Hose, will be retired. Hope Hose’s strength is not necessarily in its pumper since it runs the aerial ladder truck.

The new truck, then, will replace the 1975 Mack.

The price tag of the new pumper drew comments from other local firefighters. They pointed to Citizen’s Hose Co.’s purchase of a pumper truck about five years ago for an amount that might be $450,000 in today’s dollars. The city’s share of the cost of that 2007 pumper was $285,000.

This new pumper is not the top-of-the-line Pierce, but it will cost significantly more than $450,000, due in part to new safety features now available, including air bags and a back-up camera. The design is different, too – the cab doesn’t have to be flipped open to repair the pump. And, as with any new piece of firefighting equipment, it must meet new emissions standards, a requirement that adds 20 percent to its cost, according to Marcinkevage.

It will have a heavier-duty chassis, something the city says should save money on maintenance and extend the life of the vehicle. It will have 13-inch frame rails rather than 10-inch frame rails, 17-inch brakes rather than 15-inch brakes, independent front axle rather than solid axle, a heavier rear end, a higher gross vehicle weight, and a heavy-duty transmission.

The city does not plan to re-apply for a FEMA grant in the 2013 round of funding, Marcinkevage said, because it is not good financial planning. Realistically, the city’s chances of winning the funding won’t be any better. Also, the grant winners won’t be known until mid-2014, and if the city waits until then, the price of the pumper will have gone up in the meantime.