The El Dorado Fire Department will be getting a new fire truck following a 4-1 vote by the El Dorado City Commission Monday evening.
“Engine 8 was presented to the commission as part of the CIP items this year,” said Herb Llewellyn, city manager.
The process began about five years ago when, as part of the city budget work session, a plan was set to update and improve the fire department.
“Part of our fleet was hand-me-downs,” Llewellyn said. “Our firefighters have been using equipment that some of it was old when we got it. Five to six years ago we developed a plan to bring us into the 21st century.”
In that plan, there are two big apparatus left, this pumper truck and the platform ladder truck.
Engine 8 is the department’s oldest pumper.
While it was anticipated all of the vehicles would be lease purchased, so far they have paid cash for all of them, although staff was proposing a lease-payment for this truck. Already, they have purchased a tanker truck, new hazmat truck and two squads.
Llewellyn said they wanted to do a five-year lease purchase for Engine 8.
The City Commission was presented with three bids for the truck, all of which were higher than the amount proposed in the CIP of $400,000.
The first option was to purchase the truck with no equipment for $396,451.99 or they could purchase a truck with some equipment for $44,353.87. A fully equipped truck was $468,085.99.
Staff recommended going with some equipment because if they went with the no equipment option, they would have to take equipment off of another truck to put on the new one.
Commissioner David Chapin asked what year the truck was and what they would do with it.
He was told it was a 1990 and it would become a reserve pumper. The city lost points in their last ISO rating because they don’t have a reserve pumper.
Mayor Mike Fagg asked when the No. 9 engine was purchased, and he was told it was in 2005 with assistance of a FEMA grant that paid 90 percent of the cost.
Fagg also asked if the No. 8 truck ever had the engine replaced.
Fire Chief Ken Nakaten said it had not.
“We work on it and repair it as needed,” he said. “It is functional now.
“Historically we tend to keep our first line fire apparatus for 20 years which is five years beyond what is recommended. We’ve already pushed this truck to 23 years. If we continue to push it, it no longer has value at the end of its cycle.”
Page 2 of 3 - Llewellyn added that most of the cost is in the pumps and distribution system.
“We don’t want to wear it out,” Nakaten said. “We want to prolong its life and the only way to do it is put it in reserves.”
While the truck was not on the front line for the past few years, with the opening of the new sub-station it has had to be put back on the front line.
“I would have to go with the judgement of the men who work with the truck,” Chapin said.
Commissioner Chase Locke asked what the difference was between a truck with some equipment and fully equipped.
Nakaten said some is what is required, and they eliminated some of the equipment they can manage without, by doing such things as pulling some hose out of their inventory. He also said they would look to add that additional equipment the following year.
Commissioner Bill Young asked if the equipment they would be leaving off would create any safety concerns.
Nakaten said it would not.
“I am comfortable with the essential equipment on that truck and not sacrifice any of our services,” he said.
Fagg also asked what the cost of insurance would be on a new truck and what No. 8 is worth today.
No. 8 is worth less than $50,000, with the truck depreciating in the first 10 years they have it.
Fagg went on to ask if there was any trouble with the ladder truck.
Nakaten said they are having some hydraulic issues but they are not critical. There is work scheduled to be done on it this summer.
“It could go out on a call today,” Nakaten said.
Fagg also asked if they have any money in the equipment reserve fund for something like this.
Llewellyn said they put in either $200,000 or $400,000 at the end of 2012 in anticipation of purchasing the ladder truck, which is thought to be around $1.2 million.
Commissioner Nick Badwey made a motion to approve the purchase of a truck with some equipment, which was seconded.
“I went out and looked at all this stuff the other day. I know nothing about fire stuff,” Fagg said. “I want to commend the guys I ran into at the fire station for showing me around. You’ve got some good guys working for you.
“My thought is if we started putting money in reserve, we could put this in the fall or next spring. I know we’re going to have to get something one of these days.”
Page 3 of 3 - He wanted to see the city get a plan in place where the reserve could pay for it instead of temporary notes.
“That’s kind of what we’ve been doing,” Llewellyn said. “So I felt really good about cash management. Even though a plan was in place to borrow for all of them, we haven’t had to. I’m not sure we couldn’t pay cash for this one, but now we have to think about the million dollars coming up in 2015. I’m happy to go back and look and see what we put in that equipment reserve.”
Llewellyn did point out, “if you save up, the people who pay taxes and if they move, they don’t get the benefit for it. Where if we make payments, the people paying taxes are getting the benefit. We do five years to minimize the interest expense and also so the people who get the benefit are paying for it.”
Young did ask if they could do an early buyout on the lease purchase option and was told they could. He also wanted to make sure in a couple of years they had some money toward the big purchase.
Badwey also said he wanted to leave the money in the equipment reserve for the upcoming big purchase.
Llewellyn said he would check to see if he had the authority to enter into a lease purchase, or he would have to bring it back to the commission. He also was going to get them the balance on the equipment reserve.
“Nothing will happen today or tomorrow because we have to bid the debt,” he said.
The commission voted 4-1, with Fagg opposed, to approve the additional cost for the bid on engine No. 8 in the amount of $44,353.87.