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Tonawanda City Council approves $400,000 purchase of fire pumper truck

The City of Tonawanda Fire Department will be getting its long-sought new pumper truck, after the Common Council on Tuesday night approved the approximately $400,000 purchase.

The purchase will allow the department to retire its 37-year-old Engine 1 and move its 19-year-old Engine 3 into reserve status. Fire Chief Charles B. Stuart said he was “relieved” to be able to replace the unreliable Engine 1 with a new Spartan truck from Colden Enterprises.

“The apparatus that it’s going to replace is well past its expected lifespan,” Stuart said. “It’s been costly to keep it repaired, but, more importantly, it wasn’t as dependable as it probably should have been.”

Engine 1 had to be brought into frontline service this summer after Engine 3 was damaged in an accident.

But Engine 3 is also nearing the end of its service life, Stuart said. The city mechanic told the Council last month that much of Engine 3’s aluminum frame is corroded. He recommended placing Engine 3 in reserve status for about four years before it is retired.

The city has two pumpers in frontline service, and one as a backup, at all times. The department’s newest pumper – Engine 2 – is 11 years old.

The Council had been hesitant to make the purchase that will annually add between $11 and $13 to the average tax bill, leading some residents to criticize the Council.

“I hope that the passing of the resolution for the pumper will stop the rumors circulating about members of this Council not supporting the Fire Department,” said Second Ward Councilwoman Jackie A. Smilinich. “That could not be further from the truth. We did our due diligence fiscally to ensure that the city got what they wanted.”

Stuart acknowledged that some within the Fire Department became “impassioned” with the process to authorize the purchase a new pumper. But he noted that the department originally requested a replacement at least five years ago.

“Fire trucks obviously are a high-cost item,” he said. “Any time the city’s going to borrow money to pay at those types of levels they certainly do have to make sure that they’re doing the right thing. But the process did take longer than some of the guys would’ve liked.”

Stuart said he expects the city to take ownership of the new pumper within nine to 12 months.

Officials on Tuesday night also lauded the city’s Police, Fire, Recreation and Public Works departments for a successful and safe Canal Fest, which concluded Sunday.

“There weren’t a lot of incidents,” said Fourth Ward Councilwoman Jenna N. Koch. “You were visible. You were there. Right after the parade, within 10 seconds the street sweeper went by cleaning up the street. It was noticed.”

email: jpopiolkowski@buffnews.com