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Inflation drives up cost of new fire truck for Nanaimo

High demand, costs of materials, and natural disasters factor into emergency vehicle prices
A new frontline truck to be ordered for Nanaimo Fire Rescue, similar to trucks already in service with the fire department, is more than $341,000 over budget due to market pressures and current high demand for fire apparatus internationally. (News Bulletin file photo)

Market pressures have driven up the price of a new fire truck for Nanaimo.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue is ordering a truck to help meet the increasing demand for service from first responders.

The new apparatus, a Pierce fire truck being ordered for Fire Station 2, is the same basic vehicle as other Pierce trucks already in service with the fire department, but the cost of this vehicle has jumped to nearly $1.6 million from the previously budgeted $1.2 million.

Nanaimo fire chief Tim Doyle said, in his report to the city’s finance and audit committee March 15, that market pressures are skewing prices.

“The information used to inform the cost estimate for the new fire engine … was based on a cost analysis and the cost of the fire engines previously purchased by the city…” he said. “However, the costs … to build fire trucks is sharply increasing.”

Factors he cited driving costs include supply chain issues, new emissions standards and global industrialization that has triggered a boom in demand for fire trucks internationally.

“As global markets develop more they’re looking for more modern fire equipment … Material costs. We saw steel tariffs applied in 2018 and … they were taken off, but we never saw the subsequent cost decrease,” he said.

COVID-19, labour demands and a recent surge in orders for replace fire trucks following natural disasters have also factored into higher prices and delays in filling orders.

“We had Hurricane Ian, which puts additional pressure on the market because those fire trucks that were damaged or have to be replaced, they go to the front of the queue,” Doyle said.

READ ALSO: City of Nanaimo budgeting for 40 more firefighters and two new trucks

The fire chief also reminded councillors that the Fire Underwriters Survey – a national organization that provides data on public fire protection for fire insurance statistical work and underwriting purposes – dictates fire trucks in Canada can serve as frontline units for a maximum of 15 years and then be demoted to reserve status for another five years before they are taken out of service. He said peer fire departments, such as Vancouver, Saanich and Delta, that have recently purchased or are in the market for new frontline fire trucks also are experiencing costs hikes and longer delivery time due market pressures.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue’s trucks continue to be ordered from Pierce to ensure continuity of layout and design to make training and operation more efficient for firefighters.

Of the total $341,000 extra cost for the new fire truck, $141,000 will be needed in 2023 to cover the deposit required to place the order for the vehicle and the remaining $200,000 will be needed in 2024 before the vehicle is delivered in January 2025. The extra costs will be drawn from the strategic infrastructure reserve fund.

Doyle mentioned that two other trucks already on order, also to be delivered in January 2025, are within their original budgets.

READ ALSO: Two new fire trucks entering service in Nanaimo

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Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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