Nov. 01--As early as Saturday, a decision could be made on a fire engine for Libby Volunteer Fire Department that will replace the agency's No. 1 pumper, a 36-year-old Ford that recently failed a capacity test.
Come Saturday morning, Assistant Chief Steve Lauer and firefighter Gary Wood, who is a mechanic and chassis specialist, will board a plane for Albany, N.Y., where they will inspect a 1993 KME 1,500 gallon-per-minute, 750-gallon reserve pumper for $35,000.
Lauer said the need to fix or replace the pumper became apparent after the agency's No. 1 pumper, which was built to pump 1,000 gallons per minute, failed to meet a capacity test.
Subsequently, the department's truck committee reviewed cost estimates to fix the aging pumper.
"To repair it was between $6,000 and $8,000," Lauer said. "It comes down to the point where you wonder whether you are putting good money after bad."
Coordinating the purchase with the Libby City Council, Chief Tom Wood said they are working within a budget of $50,000, which includes freight -- the cost of getting the 10-year-old pumper to Libby. Lauer said the new pumper has been fully tested and meets, and even exceeds, the specifications of the truck it is replacing.
"The new truck can pump 1,500 gallons per minute, and it has a 750-gallon reserve," Lauer said. "The old one had a 500-gallon reserve."
Should the pumper prove worthy, Lauer said the pair would purchase the engine and then begin negotiations to ship the engine.
"Driving it here really isn't an option," Lauer said. "We really don't want to rack up those kind of hours just getting it here."
Lauer explained LVFD's truck committee reviewed five potential engines to replace old No. 1, and the one in Albany emerged on top.
"This one seems to be better for us," Lauer said shuffling through printouts of five engines, even pointing out another similar engine with a price of $49,900.
Here are the engine's specifications:
--Engine: 300 horsepower Cummins
--Brakes: Exhaust type
--Transmission: 3060 Allison
--Body: Stainless steel
--Seating: 10 firefighters; nine SCBA seats
--Pump: 1,500-gallons per minute QSMG Hale; 750-gallon poly tank
--Engine hours: 4,631
--Dimensions: 114-inches high; 29-feet, 1-inch long
Fenton Fire Equipment is the company offering the engine for sale. A volunteer fire department previously owned the engine.
Wood said replacing the engine is a factor in the department maintaining its Class 3 fire rating. Ratings start at Class 10 being the lowest and Class 1 being the best.
"The (Insurance Service Office) rating really helps homeowners," Wood said. "It can save a homeowner hundreds of dollars a year and businesses even more."
Wood explained LVFD is protective of that rating not only because of the savings to homeowners, but it also was the first volunteer department in Montana to have that high of a rating.
"We were the first volunteer department in Montana and at the time there were maybe only three volunteer departments in the nation that had the rating," Wood said.
Wood said old Engine No. 1 likely would be sold. Since it does not meet the 1,000-gallon-per-minute capacity test, it is not likely to command a high resale price.
"We may get $5,000 to $6,000 for it," Wood said. "More likely, we'd like to see a department that does not worry about ISO ratings get it."
Wood said such a department as West Kootenai, which previously purchased an engine from LVFD, might be interested.
"Either West Kootenai or a (logging operation) might be interested," Wood said. "Many of these mills need to have engines on hand."
Lauer said if the engine in Albany meets specifications, he anticipates having the engine fully operational by Dec. 1.
Copyright 2013 - The Western News, Libby, Mont.