KELOWNA - Looking to buy a fire engine? Get ready for some sticker shock and a lengthy wait because it turns out buying one of the specialized emergency response vehicles is nothing like buying a new car.
“You can’t just walk into a dealership and buy a fire truck,” says Larry Hollier, deputy chief of operations for the Kelowna Fire Department. “They are very specialized vehicles."
The department got the go-ahead Thursday from Kelowna city council to spend $600,000 to replace one of the fire engines operating out of the Water St. fire hall. Hollier said the approval allows the department to take a process that has already begun to its conclusion.
The department’s in-house truck committee has already been examining the specifications of the various models offered by manufacturers —there are only a handful of them — based on feedback from the front line crews.
“They let us know what works and what doesn’t,” said Hollier. “The safey features on these trucks are always changing.”
Once the commitee makes its selection and the bidding process is complete, Hollier said the department will work closely with the manufacturer during the engine’s construction.
“There is a pre-construction meeting at their facility where they supply drawings and we go over the details with their engineers,” he added. “Then there is the pre-paint inspection where we make sure everything is where it is supposed to be prior to it being painted.”
One detail has already been determined — the colour.
“Red, red or red,” Hollier said. “There are other colours, yellow, white. But in Kelowna we’re red.”
Should everything proceed as planned, Hollier said the department could expect delivery of the new engine sometime next summer, although it would not immediately see action.
“Crews will be trained on it for about a month prior to it going (into) service,” he added. “They need to know where everything is and how it works before we send them out in it.”
Once the new engine is in place, Hollier said the department will fully retire one of its oldest pieces of apparatus, a Spartan Tele-Squirtan engine with aerial capabilities built in 1994.
Under current policy, Hollier said department trucks are pushed into the reserve fleet after 12 years, where they will see limited back-up service. After 20 years, the vehicles are replaced. The new engine, once it arrives will replace Engine Two, which in turn will move into the reserve fleet. The department just took delivery of a $1.2-million ladder truck which has been in service after crew training for just 10 days.
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