By LeAnn R. Ralph
BOYCEVILLE — The Boyceville Community Fire District Board’s five-year-planning committee has reviewed three proposals for a new fire engine that would cost approximately $500,000.
The five-year planning committee met at the fire station October 26 to review the proposals.
The Boyceville fire department’s existing engine that would be replaced was bought new in 1992, and the department’s back-up fire engine also is a 1992 purchased from the Menomonie fire department in 2003.
[emember_protected] Much has changed in the way of safety features on fire engines over the last 25 years, said Tim Fasbender.
Fasbender is a full-time firefighter with the Menomonie fire department. He lives in Boyceville and also serves as a volunteer firefighter for the Boyceville fire department and is a member of the firefighters’ truck committee.
As an example, one of the safety features is that fire engines no longer are allowed to have manual transmissions.
When fire department personnel are fighting a fire, if the fire engine has a manual transmission, it can slip into gear and move forward. Firefighters have been injured and killed by fire engines with manual transmissions, Fasbender said.
The Boyceville fire engine that would be replaced has a manual transmission.
A number of other features to improve safety and efficiency also are standard on new fire engines, Fasbender said.
The Boyceville fire engine carries folded hoses in open compartments along the side and in the rear.
Because the hoses are not secured, they could come loose while en route to a fire, Fasbender said.
The hoses themselves might not be as much of a problem as the nozzles on the end. If hoses come loose, the nozzles could strike the windshield or the side window of a car, Fasbender said.
As for efficiency, new fire engines have brackets in the side compartments so that all of the tools, such as a shovels, have their own brackets for storage, he said.
If the tools are stored in brackets, firefighters do not have to worry about opening the compartment and having a shovel or some other piece of equipment fall out. Firefighters also do not have to take out all of the equipment to get the tool they need. They can just take it from the bracket and get to work, Fasbender said.
Water pumps and valves are designed to operate more efficiently, too, he said.
When 20 seconds can mean the difference between having a room and the contents destroyed by fire or the fire spreading to the rest of the house, resulting in a total loss, seconds matter, he said.
If the Boyceville fire department builds a new fire station and buys a new fire engine, the savings will be significant for businesses and individuals in the fire district on their property insurance, Fasbender said.
The efficiency of fire stations and the state of the equipment affects the Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating. The rating is like a report card for the fire department, he said.
Fire departments lose ISO points for training when they have to move equipment out of a fire station to obtain more room for training, he said.
Firefighters are required to have 18 hours per year per person for training, Fasbender noted.
The Boyceville Community Fire District Board also is in the process of obtaining more detailed cost estimates to build a new fire station.
The initial estimates were $2 million to $3 million, although the exact cost of a new fire station would not be known until the bids have been received.
A committee of firefighters tasked with obtaining information on new fire engines obtained proposals from three different companies.
Custom Fire Apparatus in Osceola builds 40 fire engines per year.
The committee went on a tour of the Custom plant July 26.
Custom trucks use parts that can be purchased through a NAPA store if they need to be replaced, Fasbender said, adding that the advantage to being able to easily buy parts is that Boyceville firefighters often do their own repairs.
Custom Fire indicated a price of $510,000 to $520,000, he said.
Committee members also toured the Pierce Manufacturing facility in Fremont.
Pierce builds 400 fire trucks per year and uses specific vendors for repair, Fasbender said.
The quality of the trucks built by Pierce do not seem to be quite as good, he said.
The Pierce trucks are both welded and bolted, while the Custom Fire Trucks are all bolted together, making it easier to replace components if they are bolted on rather than welded, Fasbender said.
Pierce builds fire engines for large fire departments, such as New York City and Los Angeles, so the single fire engine ordered by Boyceville may not be an especially high priority, he said.
Pierce quoted a price of $470,000 to $517,000.
Building a fire engine takes between eight months and a year, Fasbender said.
Rosenbauer, a third manufacturer of fire engines, is located in Wyoming, Minnesota, Fasbender said.
A one-year-old Rosenbauer fire engine had rust streaks on the valves, the trim was coming loose, and the fire truck had some flaking paint, he said.
Rosenbauer quoted a price of $414,000 for a fire engine, Fasbender said.
Rich Monn, representative on the fire board for the Town of Stanton and chair of the five-year planning committee, wondered what the existing fire engine is worth.
Fasbender estimated Boyceville could get $5,000 out of the fire engine by selling it outright.
The fire district could finance the new fire station and the new fire engine together, he said.
“The timing is not the best (for purchasing a new fire engine),” said Ned Hahn, representative for the Town of Hay River.
The fire engine should have been replaced five to seven years ago. The water pump on the fire truck is a problem, Fasbender said.
Monn suggested that members of the truck committee put together a list of highlights, costs, benefits, and information about financing to present to the Boyceville Community Fire District Board at the next meeting November 15.
The fire department currently has about $300,000 in cash, and the department could put $200,000 toward the new fire engine and then finance the rest of the cost, said Brian Marlette, Boyceville fire chief. [/emember_protected]