By Ralph Echtinaw
The St. Louis Area Fire Department will have a new truck to replace an obsolescent 1996 International pumper in 18-24 months. That’s how long it takes to get a new truck once it’s ordered.
The new truck will be manufactured by Rosenbauer of Lyons, South Dakota and cost $458,000. That will be mitigated by grants from the Herbert and Grace Dow Foundation ($200,000), USDA Rural Development ($50,000) and the Rollin Gerstacker Foundation ($20,000); leaving $188,000 to be paid with the department’s equipment fund, which contains at least $380,000 at the moment. (The equipment fund is augmented each year with a $60,000 addition.)
Fire Chief Bill Coty will have the new truck set up identically to the department’s 2012 International pumper so firefighters don’t get confused by controls that are different on each truck.
Fire Board members representing Bethany Township, Jasper Township, Pine River Township and St. Louis chose the Rosenbauer over a Spencer truck because the Spencer is more expensive at $494,000.
“Rosenbauer is probably the biggest fire truck manufacturer in the world,” Coty said. “They build a very good truck.” Spencer, on the other hand, is the “Cadillac” of fire trucks, Coty said. “Our number one engine and our rescue are Spencers. They’re wonderful trucks. Great quality. But you’re paying for a Cadillac in many ways.”
Another factor affecting the Fire Board’s decision is that the department usually has its trucks serviced at Front Line Services in Freeland, a Rosenbauer dealer. Taking another brand of truck there is like having your Chevy serviced at a Ford dealer, Coty said.
The department also has $76,000 in American Recovery Plan Act funds (a gift from the Gratiot County Commission), but the law says that money can’t be used for anything that a USDA grant is used for.
“We have plenty of projects in the fire station that this money could be used for,” Coty said. “There is other aging equipment, and it will be put to good use for the community there’s no doubt about that.”