Pittsfield Fire Looking To Buy Two Used Fire Trucks
By Andy McKeever
07:35PM / Wednesday, October 14, 2015
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Fire Department is on the lookout for used vehicles to replace two apparatuses the department struggles to keep on the road.
The City Council approved using the $200,000 set aside to repair one truck to purchase two used vehicles instead.
The City Council approved using some $200,000 that had already been allocated to refurbish a vehicle to instead look for used vehicles to bolster their reserves.
According to Deputy Chief Michael Polidoro, both Truck 2 and Engine 2 are now eyed for replacement with used vehicles.
"These two vehicles have been nightmares for emissions," Polidoro said.
Truck 2 serves as the department's reserve ladder truck and needs major repair. This vehicle failed emissions tests earlier this year and was placed out of service to be repaired.
"There have been times when we went without a ladder truck and depended on other communities," Polidoro said.
However, parts for these two vehicles are not easily found. The parts are obsolete and are only available if shipped from overseas. Initially it was thought that the $200,000 allocated could have been used to refurbish it, but all of the estimates for refurbishment were too high.
"We got a ballpark figure of what it would cost to replace Truck 2, which is a 1994," Polidoro said. "The idea was to start looking around at what was available out there."
Engine 2 has been out of service for about a year now, with the reserve Engine 7 being used in its place. The new plan calls for the purchase of two used vehicles to add to the reserve fleet to get the department through three to five years when officials can purchase a brand new vehicle.
Deputy Fire Chief Mark Cancilla said in the next four to six months a consultant will be repairing a report on the department's long-term needs. That will help guide the buying schedule to turnover the fleet. But, in the meantime, the department knows it is short on reserves and doesn't want to miss out on a possible deal.
"We are requesting to get some additional money to get a truck that is 10 years newer," Cancilla said. "We had picked out some vehicles and they didn't pan out. We are still doing a search."
Polidoro said other departments often replace vehicles after determined period of times, regardless of the amount of usage. He said sometimes older vehicles go on the market but had not gone on many calls.
"Unfortunately, the good ones go quick and that is our biggest concern," Polidoro said of the used fire truck market. "We can't foresee what is going to be available."
In general, the department doesn't like to buy used vehicles because often the trucks come with unforeseen issues, Polidoro said, but in the case the department would benefit from the extra reserves while a brand new latter truck would cost upward of $1 million.
City Council Vice President Christopher Connell encouraged the practice of seeking vehicles at auction. He said he's seen many vehicles sold on auction for good prices. With the money already allocated to refurbish the vehicle, Connell says it is "a very good idea" to "spread out our resources" by purchasing used reserve trucks.
"I have seen the final bid prices go a fairly decent price," Connell said. "It does require a little bit of legwork."
Councilor At-large Kathleen Amuso said, "I want to make sure we have the right truck for the right amount of money."
The Fire Department already has a new brand new triple combination engine on order. That vehicle is being built to order now so it won't be delivered to the department until next year. Polidoro said the chief makes the decision where the new vehicle is located.
This year the department had also sent Tower 1 for repair after striking low-hanging limb during a fire response to Canoe Meadows. The control pedestal on the turntable had to be repaired. Truck 3 also needed to be sent to Springfield for engine work as well.