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Fire department seeks Augusta Commission's approval for ladder-truck refurbishment

Monday, Aug 25, 2014 9:01 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014 1:57 PM
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The Augusta Fire Department is hoping to resurrect one of its aerial ladder trucks within a year, and all that’s needed is an Augusta Commission stamp of approval.

Deputy Chief Sterling Jones stands with the 1994 Tiller Aerial Ladder fire truck. With the commission's approval, the Augusta Fire Department is hoping to refurbish a truck within a year.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
Deputy Chief Sterling Jones stands with the 1994 Tiller Aerial Ladder fire truck. With the commission's approval, the Augusta Fire Department is hoping to refurbish a truck within a year.

A proposal naming Pennsylvania-based Kovatch Mobile Equipment Corporation as the vender to refurbish the truck went before the Public Safety committee Monday. Without a quorum, no action was taken and the proposal will be moved to the Sept. 2 commission meeting agenda. The department negotiated a final price of $278,105 for the refurbishment.

The truck, purchased in the early 1990s, has sat dormant at Station No. 3 on Reynolds Street since it developed mechanical problems, was declared unfit for duty and decommissioned.

It’s built to be steered by two firefighters – one in the front of the vehicle and one in the rear – allowing fire crews to easily navigate the narrow streets of downtown Augusta. Chief Chris James said the truck had developed a rear axle bounce, which made it unsafe.

KME’s proposal offers an option to retrofit the truck’s new axle with a new air spring suspension at no extra cost.

James told The Augusta Chronicle in November that a new apparatus would run the department more than $1 million. The department could auction off the truck to recover some of the costs, but James said that would fetch less money than what the unit is worth.

Also in November, the commission approved James’ request to use more than $201,390 from a department revenue account to help pay for new uniforms and for the refurbishment of the truck. About $168,000 will go toward rejuvenating the aging apparatus.

According to a proposal submitted to the city by KME, the refurbishment is expected to take about 240 days. The rebuild will be done in accordance to current National Fire Protection Association standards.

The unit’s engine will be removed and a remanufactured Detroit Diesel engine will take its place. The engine will come with a two-year warranty. The Allison transmission will be removed and replaced, as will the front axle.

The cab of the truck will be gutted and returned to its former glory, and the entire truck will receive a fresh coat of paint. The last step outlined in the proposal is to update lighting on the truck with LED lights.

James has expressed interest in moving a second aerial ladder truck to south Augusta. Within the past year, he’s added one to Station No. 19 on Brown Road, which was the first aerial ladder truck south of Tobacco Road.

Once the refurbished truck is fit for duty, the department can activate it for use downtown and move a second truck to south Augusta.

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nocnoc 08/26/14 - 06:01 am
hoptoad 08/26/14 - 10:32 am
It does seem high. Any time

It does seem high. Any time the city, state or federal government is shopping for a service or product, they are taken advantage of financially.

Just before I retired from Ft Gordon we were given the okay to shop at local businesses for certain items in an effort to cut some of the ridiculous spending. It always brings to mind the toilet seats and hammers years ago that had such an inflated cost, that any fool could have seen through it but the government paid it because they had to use "contractors".

However, I fully support any effort to improve fire equipment. Having two friends who retired from the FD who are now ill (maybe related to their service) and an uncle who was a fire fighter that lost his life because of a faulty ladder, I say "git 'er done!"

Sweet son
Sweet son 08/26/14 - 11:56 am
Raleigh Fire Department Aerial Truck Rollover?

It seems that they had an incident where the front driver went into a turn too fast and the truck rolled over hurting several firefighters. Maximum training is needed for the drivers of these type trucks. The front driver must be keenly aware of the speed and the fact that the rear driver is just along for the ride and rear steering.

Watch this video it's very good!

Of course if Chief James sees this or has seen it then he'll want money to go to Seattle or to bring those folks here.

corgimom 08/27/14 - 06:29 pm
I saw a story online that

I saw a story online that said a 2011 truck cost a municipality $958,000, so if it can be refurbished for $278 K, that sounds pretty good to me.

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