St. Joseph City Commission Greenlights Major New Aerial Firetruck

Saying “This not an expense, it is an investment in the very safety of our community,” St. Joseph Mayor Mike Garey joined the unanimous vote of his fellow City Commissioners Monday night in setting the stage for a major new firetruck replacement plan with a new rig from Pierce Manufacturing to the tune of $1,354,878.00.

If all goes according to plan, the new firetruck with a 100-foot mid-mount platform should be ready for the city this summer by June or July.

Deputy Public Safety Director Steve Neubecker told the commission tonight that the truck is a much needed replacement for a rig that was purchased 17-years ago but is in disrepair and would take from $375,000 to $425,000 to repair.

Neubecker told the City Commission that the firetruck purchased in 2003 was diagnosed in December “with severe mechanical failings, particularly a cracked and split frame, that have rendered the unit unusable. The original diagnosis came through an apparatus inspection that was conducted by Emergency Vehicle Products; a second opinion was obtained through an apparatus inspection that was conducted by West Shore Fire Incorporated.”

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Neubecker explained the high cost of repairing the old unit, saying, “Part of the reason for the high cost is that repairing the frame would require removing the truck tower and body from the frame and reassembling the vehicle following frame repairs. Staff believes it clearly does not make sense to spend so much on repairs on a vehicle that was slated for retirement; the repair cost would be approximately 30-percent the cost of a new unit.”

The firefighter told commissioners, “Staff has concluded that Pierce Manufacturing provides the best fit for our department. The first reason, and perhaps the most important, is that Pierce offers a product that is on the cutting edge of technology and safety while at the same time, offering simplicity and ease of use; the design is well-suited for our operations.” He added, “Secondly, the two fire engines in our fleet were both manufactured by Pierce — Engine 104, the 1998 engine that we recently had refurbished, and E-105, our lead engine that was purchased in 2015.”

The firefighting team also points out that maintaining a fleet of equipment from the same manufacturer creates a layer of safety for the staff by virtue of similarity; saying, “We have been satisfied with the quality of the Pierce vehicles over the past 22 years.”

The new vehicle is a Velocity, custom chassis, 100 foot mid mount platform truck built by Pierce Manufacturing at a cost of $1,354,978.00. The unit is already in the process of being built at the Pierce factory and is scheduled to be completed in June or July of 2021.

Neubecker notes, “Purchasing a vehicle that is already in production would save several months. Ordering a custom vehicle would likely mean a delivery next winter rather than this summer.”

Commissioners concurred and passed a resolution authorizing the purchase of the new truck and instructing the city staff to prepare purchase documents and seek proposals for installment purchase agreement financing to be presented to the commission upon receipt.