The head of the city’s fire department on Tuesday evening made the case that his department is in need of five new fire trucks. Michael Postorino, city’s fire chief, said repairs on aging trucks have been costing the city upwards of $300,000 per year.
Postorino wants the city to enter into a 10-year lease agreement with Pierce Manufacturing of Appleton, Wisconsin to procure five Pierce Arrow XT Pumpers at annual payments of $288,256. The engines at the end of the 10-year period will cost the city $2.5 million with added interest of $400,000. In total the city will pay $2,882,556 at the end of year 2024.
Postorino said he is attempting to replace five trucks: one vehicle from 1989, two vehicles from 1999, and two more from 2002. “The life span for an average size department is about 10 years,” said Postorino.
“Why the five? Do we need five at one shot? Can we do with two?” asked Alex Mendez, councilman at-large. “We really need to replace all five. We should have replaced them earlier,” answered Postorino. The chief said one of the vehicles is more than 20 years old.
With his department responding to approximately 36,000 calls per year the engines wear out quickly. “They take a beating,” said the chief. “There’s always a need to replace this equipment.”
The five aforementioned vehicles the fire department uses currently has cost the city $300,000 in repairs just last year, said the chief. “Those costs are not going to go down they are going to continue to go up,” said Postorino. “For one year’s repair payment we can replace five of them.”
Postorino argued that at present repairs on the five trucks are costing the city $300,000 whereas leasing five vehicles costs the city only $288,000. The chief said with the new vehicles the city will have to make almost no repairs during the first five years.
“We have the option to purchase at the end of our lease,” said Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman. After the lease expires, the city can purchase the engines for a nominal fee of $1 – one dollar.
“It’s a lease buy option,” said Postorino. The lease to buy option did not appear particularly appealing two-weeks ago, when council members pulled the appropriation resolution, after seeing the price tag.
William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman, wanted to discuss the matter with the fire chief before the council approved the resolution. McKoy requested Postorino to appear before the council to explain where the funds were going.
“There is no impact on the budget this year,” said Postorino. The chief said the first lease payment is not due until October 10, 2015.