OLEAN – City fire officials are starting to think they need a new truck.
The aerial ladder truck, which was purchased in 1989, has served the department well, according to Fire Chief Robert P. Bell. However, it is starting to show its age and is not passing certification for the second time in eight years, he said.
In 2005, the truck had to have $80,000 in repairs to reach certification. This year, the base of the ladder needs about $12,000 in repairs before the truck can be considered safe, Bell said.
“It’s time to start looking at new equipment,” he said.
The Common Council has given the department permission to seek bids on a new truck, which is expected to come in between $750,000 to $800,000. But that is not sitting well with one Council member.
Ward 6 Alderman Nate Smith said that the city seems to have been on a spending spree lately and that there has to be a time when officials “take a breather and say, ‘Enough.’ ”
“We have spent a lot of money on East State Street, Bradner Stadium, War Vets Park, and we are talking about redoing the lights on North Union Street,” Smith said. “We are looking at a quarter-million dollar investment. I am much more excited about a $12,000 repair to get it back to a safe condition. The truck is in good mechanical condition once this repair is made.”
The truck only has 14,000 miles on it, Bell said, but those are tough miles, and the engine has been worked hard.
“That truck is our workhorse at fires,” he said. “We call it our hardware store on wheels. It can carry the equipment the other trucks can’t.”
That is one of the things that makes the truck so important to the department. The other trucks only carry 24-foot ladders. Bell said that those will reach only as high as a second floor. The aerial truck carries 35- and 40-foot ladders.
The truck will need to undergo about a week’s worth of repairs to make it viable for trade-in, Bell told the Council. Over that time, because of the need for ladder capability, he said, Westons Mills would be an automatic mutual-aid department. While the Olean truck has a 110-foot ladder, Westons Mills’ vehicle only carries a 75-foot aerial, Bell said.
According to industry standards, Bell said, trucks similar to this are recommended to be placed in a reserve status at 15 years old. Once a truck hits 25 years, he said, it is recommended that it be decommissioned.
Bell said he and city officials will put together a bid package for a new truck.