The old engine has the equivalent of 335,000 miles, according to Fire Rescue Chief Michael Tucker.
by: Mia Striegel
The Flagler County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Fire Rescue Chief Michael Tucker’s request for a budget transfer of $1.24 million from the General Fund Reserves to purchase two new fire engines.
This reduces General Fund Reserves from $18.4 million to $17.1 million.
“I'm not thrilled with pulling six and a half percent of our reserves for a couple of fire trucks. I know it's needed,” County Commissioner Andy Dance said.
Fire Rescue needs the new engines because of the high miles accumulated from responding to emergencies, but also the speed at which they are driving Tucker said.
“One of the worst things on those large engines is to idle,” he said. “So, when those things sit on scenes for extended periods of time … there's a lot of wear and tear on those motors and pumps.”
The fire engine at Station 71 in St. Johns Park has the highest mileage in the county. There are 159,000 miles on it and 10,143 hours. Each hour an engine is in use puts an additional 35 miles worth of wear on an engine, compared to an average car driving at 35 mph, Tucker said. This makes the miles on this fire engine equivalent to 335,000 miles on an average car.
Flagler County plans to buy its two new fire engines from the manufacturer Pierce. The county has previously bought engines from Pierce’s Wisconsin location, but due to supply chain issues, the engines would take 22 months to arrive in Flagler. Tucker is proposing to purchase the engines from Pierce’s Florida location, in Bradenton, which would instead take 14 months.
A concern was brought up by County Commissioner David Sullivan as to whether it is necessary to send both a fire engine and an ambulance to a medical call, or if that is just adding unnecessary miles.
“The rationale behind our truck … going in addition to the ambulance is which unit can get there actually first and faster, because they're not all starting from the exact same place,” Tucker said.
Fire Rescue are working to use technology to come up with a better way to respond, to cut down on the mileage on the fire engines.
Tucker was informed by Braun, the county’s ambulance manufacturer, that if Fire Rescue were to order another ambulance in the future, it would take 24 months for that delivery.
Another concern was brought up by a community member, who said he had observed two firefighters going into Publix while a third firefighter remained in the engine, idling in the parking lot.
“Why can't firemen go to Publix in a smaller vehicle instead of a big fire truck?” the man asked.
“Unfortunately, the fire stations don't have a staff vehicle assigned to them,” Flagler County Administrator Heidi Petito said. “Whether it's on an engine or an ambulance, we don't have extra personnel that you could essentially take that unit out of service [and let] one person … do the shopping.”