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Longboat Key Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2019 2 years ago

Longboat Key Fire Department preparing to take a step up

Town budgets $850,000 for new ladder truck.
by: Sten Spinella Staff Writer

Longboat Key’s fire department is preparing for an important addition: a new ladder truck.

Important, and expensive. The town allotted $850,000 for the truck as a capital improvement project, and Deputy Chief Chris Krajic plans on spending “every penny.”

“It's one of those things where I'm not going to be $50,000 under budget on this truck,” Krajic said, “because these things are expensive.”

The way the department sees it, though, purchasing a ladder truck will ultimately save money. Right now, LBKFD has two ladder trucks and one engine in reserve in its garages. One ladder truck is causing concern because it’s older and requires maintenance, like a long-owned car that becomes too expensive to keep up. In 2013, the department likewise replaced ladder trucks for the same cost-benefit reason.

“We've actually run into a couple instances where we can't get parts for it any more,” Krajic said. “You balance out the value. If I keep it for another year, how much am I going to spend to maintain it? Versus what am I going to get for it to trade it in or auction it or whatever we decide to do?”

According to Krajic, it takes 10-12 months to build the type of fire truck Longboat is looking for. He said the hope is the department can choose a vendor and place an order near the beginning of November.

As for what happens to the old ladder truck once the new one is here, “We are exploring options on that,” Krajic said. “We are talking with all of the vendors and seeing what they're going to give us for it on a trade-in. We can also put it out for auction. We're weighing things out to see what we will get the most money for.”

While the department isn’t exactly sure about all the features it wants for the truck, it has some ideas.

The precise type of truck the department will have custom-made is called a Quint: it carries a pump, water tank, fire hose, ground ladder and high-reaching aerial device.

LBKFD is considering a ladder between 75 feet and 100 feet tall to access some of the upper reaches of the town's condo buildings. Krajic said the department has asked manufacturers for prices on trucks with different ladder sizes to see what falls within its price range.

Krajic said the department wants a tank that can hold at minimum 500 gallons and a pump that can deliver at least 1,500 gallons a minute. The truck will be built to fit four crew members.

First, the department will make sure the truck has what it needs – then it may add components it doesn’t have at the moment.

“A couple of the features we were looking at in this truck that are not on our current trucks is an onboard generator, so we can have power right from the truck onto the scene and to the tip of the ladder,” Krajic said. “We're also looking at what's called a Class A Foam System, which injects a Class A Foam into the water, breaking the surface tension so theoretically, you can actually use less water. You put the water on, it soaks in better, and then fire stays out.”

Krajic said the department last added a truck in 2013. That truck was outfitted identically to the department's other truck, making it easy for crew members to go back and forth between the two. The $750,000 apparatus replaced a yellow ladder truck that was stationed at the South Fire Station and was costing the town several thousand dollars annually in maintenance, according to a memo from Dezzi to the Longboat Key Town Commission. The vehicle was funded through infrastructure surtax funds, i.e. the one-cent sales tax.

The truck that is set to be replaced was bought back in 2005. It currently has 3,678 hours on it. 

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Sten Spinella is a Town Hall Reporter for the Longboat Observer. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Connecticut and his master's degree from the University of Missouri. 

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