Friday, April 12, 2013

Sun Valley invests in wildland fire engines

City to repair 2, replace 1


By BRENNAN REGO
Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley City Council has unanimously approved the expenditure of $15,000 from the city’s contingency fund to cover higher-than-expected costs to repair two of the city’s wildland fire engines and replace a third in preparation for fire season.

The Fire Department’s fiscal 2013 budget sets aside $105,000 to repair Engine 63, which acting Fire Chief Ray Franco said in an interview is a “large tanker”-type engine. At a council meeting on Thursday, April 4, he said it’s a high priority for the department to repair that engine’s water tank, which is “rotted out” in the back and leaks when the engine goes uphill. However, it will cost $130,000 to do so.

The budget also sets aside $29,000 to repair Engine 66, which Franco said in the interview is a medium-size engine. At the meeting, he said it’s the department’s second priority to replace that engine’s foam pump. A staff report included in the meeting packet states that will cost only $18,050, as the department will perform much of the work itself. At the meeting, Franco suggested using some of the savings to cover the higher-than-expected cost of repairing Engine 63.

Lastly, the budget sets aside $125,000 to buy an engine that would replace Engine 64, which Franco said in the interview is a smaller-size engine. He said the city has operated it for about 15 years after buying it used. At the meeting, he said it’s the department’s third priority to replace that engine and suggested using some of the money budgeted to do so to instead repair engine 63.

“Fix them all,” Councilman Nils Ribi said at the meeting.

Councilman Bob Youngman said, “That’s what contingency is for.” Councilman Franz Suhadolnik said Franco should not be “shy” when he submits his budget this year.

“I’d rather spend the money on you,” he said.

In the interview, Franco said the department has tried to get the engines repaired for the past “several years,” but “the funding hasn’t been available.” He said the department will continue to use Engine 64 for another six to eight weeks until its replacement arrives. It will then serve as a reserve engine. He said the department’s fleet overall and its municipal engines are in “great shape.”


Brennan Rego: brego@mtexpress.com

 




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