Fire truck costs Lantzville more than expected

The District of Lantzville is now looking at how much money it will take to replenish reserves after purchasing a new fire engine.

The District of Lantzville is reviewing just how much it will take to replenish reserves, after a new fire engine cost more than officials expected.

The District of Lantzville recently approved the purchase of a new $541,380 custom fire engine – a price tag 44 per cent higher than originally budgeted for.

According to Mayor Jack de Jong, the truck from Alberta-based Rocky Mountain Phoenix was the most affordable option presented during the request for proposal process and is needed to maintain residents’ fire insurance costs. A recent fire underwriters’ survey classified the district’s  27-year-old pumper truck as nearing the end of its life and recommended it be replaced by 2015 to maintain the community’s insurance rating.

The extra expense for the new truck will come out of existing fire department reserves and will be part of a review into how much taxes the municipality now needs to replenish reserves and pay for future fire truck purchases.

“Each year the contribution to the fire truck reserve has been approximately $70,000 … given what happened with the fire underwriters’ survey we will take another look at the replacement schedule and revisit that number to see if it needs to be higher or lower going forward,” said Jedha Holmes, the district’s director of financial services.

The new custom-built fire engine is expected to arrive at the fire hall in a year.

De Jong said the cost is “higher than we estimated” but said it gives the fire department more options to enhance its service.

Fire chief Tom Whipps doesn’t agree with the underwriters’ survey that there is a need to purchase a new truck. Despite it being built in 1986, the pumper engine passes pump tests annually with “flying colours,” he said.

But he said the underwriters’ survey has pretty much mandated the new buy and admits it will provide the department with a better vehicle. It will be the first custom chassis truck owned by Lantzville, giving them a higher standard of collision and roll over protection. It will also be custom created to have more storage capacity so it could eventually become a “rescue/pumper” truck in the future. It would give district an option to reduce maintenance costs by using the one  pumper engine to  replace its non-rescue fire fighting vehicle in the future, Whipps said.

The district is currently creating a new fire truck replacement and funding schedule.