published Monday, September 17th, 2012

Firetruck costs spark sticker shock for Bradley County Fire Board members

  • photo
    Bradley County Commissioner Ed Elkins
    Photo by Gillian Bolsover

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A $2 million price tag for fully equipping three new fire stations with pumper and tanker trucks generated lively discussion among Bradley County Fire Board members.

On Thursday, the board voted 5-0 to recommend the County Commission approve funding for six firetrucks through a bond issue for the lowest bids received. County Commissioner Ed Elkins, who serves on the board, passed on the vote after expressing sticker shock.

"We're going to have to do something, guys," board member Briant Berry said. "Time is almost on top of us."

Bradley County Fire and Rescue requested bids for three pumper trucks and three tanker trucks for stations planned for Minnis Road, Dalton Pike and Georgetown Road — all of which are scheduled to be fully operational by June 2013.

The lowest bid received for pumper trucks was $478,447 each; the lowest bid received for tanker trucks was $215,900 each.

Board members said they had expected something closer to $350,000 for a pumper truck, based on the purchase of a similar pumper truck a few years ago.

That cost did not include the $50,000 to $70,000 equipment price to equip the engine with items such as air packs, hoses and a thermal camera, Bradley County Fire and Rescue Chief Dewey Woody said. New emission controls also have driven costs up by as much as $50,000, he said.

The board asked whether costs could be shaved by buying base-model vehicles and equipping them in-house.

In the end, the county might save $12,000 doing that, Woody estimated. However, he said, the vehicle manufacturers likely received savings on add-on equipment that the county could not get on its own.

Another benefit of purchasing ready-to-go trucks is the time saved on bidding out for equipment and installation work, he said.

County commissioners have a few weeks to consider the issue before the firetruck funding proposal can appear on the next voting agenda, said board member Louie Alford, who also serves as chairman of the commission.

The county's Finance Committee will review the issue before then, as well, said Elkins, who is a member of the committee.

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