MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - New upgrades for Montgomery's aging fire trucks are proving to be a win-win for the city and for taxpayers.
By updating the trucks instead of buying new ones, Montgomery is saving hundreds of thousands of dollars. The work is designed to help firefighters continue to tackle fires and protect the city's bottom line.
With funds tight the last few years, Montgomery Fire/Rescue has had to get creative in order to keep their fleet in shape in a cost effective way.
Major repairs are keeping them on the roads longer.
District Chief Allen Wiggins says several trucks have had face lifts inside and out- new paint, new wheels and a new engine along with other enhancements like LED lights. The refurbishing is giving the trucks another 10 years on the front line.
“A new ladder truck runs approximately $800, 000 and we're able to bring this truck back up to par for a fraction of that,” he said. “It still doesn't hide the fact that we need to replace it with a new one. We'd still like to replace it with a new one when the funding is available. But with the option to prolong that, we do save money in the long run.”
The department has already had two ladder trucks worked on and three pumper trucks will get the overhaul this year. A brand new ladder truck costs $800,000. To refurbish one costs less than $200,000. A brand new pumper truck costs $500,000. To refurbish one costs less than $100,000. That's a cost savings of more than $2 million on those five trucks alone.
“Without major repairs, we'd be stuck with an old truck that may be breaking down and staying in the shop a great deal. With going through the major repairs, we're able to buy time until the monies are better to buy new trucks,” said Fire Chief Milford Jordan. “I'm very happy and proud of it because I know the struggles our city goes through with funding and I'm glad that we are able to use the money in a very positive way for our department and our city.”
Montgomery fire department officials said other cities have contacted them asking about the repairs. Birmingham Fire/Rescue visited local stations to find out more about the work that's being done on the trucks and look at the craftsmanship.
“The equipment, when we get it refurbished, is just as efficient as it was when it was first delivered all those years ago,” Wiggins said. “It brings it back to the way it was when it was new.”