LINO LAKES — The public safety department is looking for both a short-term and long-term solution after one of its apparatuses had to be taken out of service.
Aerial 11 had its annual Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
and National Fire Protection (NFPA) inspection last month. The inspection found that the vehicle’s frame has catastrophic rust jacking. Rust happens when iron and oxygen react, usually in the presence of water.
Public Safety Director John Swenson said the problem was first found during the annual inspection that was completed shortly after Lino Lakes took possession of the vehicle from the Centennial Fire District in 2016.
Each year, the apparatus has been inspected and monitored for rust, but this year the rust was too great, and the truck failed the inspection.
The main benefit of having Aerial 11 in the city’s fleet is pump size, because the city’s two tenders do not have a pump size that meets the city’s fire suppression needs. The long-term plan for the city has always been to look at purchasing two new tenders that would meet the city’s needs in terms of pump size and water capacity, Swenson said. (Tenders are used to bring additional water to the site, often in rural areas where hydrants are not available.)
Dan L’Allier, deputy public safety director of the fire division, explained that Aerial 11 cannot be repaired, as the frame is no longer available. A used apparatus has been hard to come by, he said, but he did locate one for approximately $200,000 that would take care of the water pump needs, but not address water storage required to fight fires in rural areas.
“It’s just like cars. The price is through the roof … Used truck price has gone up and there is not much on market.”
Further complicating things, the fire apparatus industry has seen significant price increases and manufacturing times. L’Allier explained that not only have prices increased by 25% to 30%, but it now takes 30 to 36 months instead of 18 to 24 months to build a new apparatus.
Replacement of the water tenders is estimated to cost approximately $800,000 to $900,000 each. “We need to get them ordered sooner than later, so we can at least get on clock,” Swenson explained.
“The is all occurring on a timeline that isn’t very beneficial to us,” Swenson said, adding that all of Anoka County will be evaluated this summer for ISO ratings. If the city doesn’t come up with a short-term solution, ISO ratings could be impacted. Consequently, local residential and commercial insurance rates could be impacted.
Swenson said he was struggling with the idea of spending $200,000 for 36 months to simply resell the apparatus with the hope of receiving a good offer.
Council Member Michael Ruhland said, “I think I’d rather lose 25-30% on $200K then have an increase on $900K.”
Mayor Rob Rafferty said, “The biggest problem that I see is we have lost the ability of what we actually needed this apparatus for … One thing we know for sure, is that if this one is out (of service) and we don’t replace it, we are going to be out for five years on ISO ratings.”
Council Member Christopher Lyden said, “All my cars are 15 years old. I don’t mind working on them, cutting corners, putting Band-Aids on them, but I can’t see cutting corners at all with the police and fire. I want them to have the best equipment to do the job.”
The council agreed that the department should move forward with purchasing the used apparatus right away, as it likely won’t be on the market long and, at the same time, come up with a plan to get the ball rolling on the replacement of its 1992 and 1993 water tenders.
Swenson said he would likely be before the council May 23 or June 14 to ask for authorization to purchase the used apparatus. He was hopeful that sometime this summer, the plan would be set in motion to get those tender replacements ordered.
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