Watertown fire engine off the road for repairs for 12 months [Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.]

April 17– Apr. 17WATERTOWN — A crucial piece of city fire department equipment, a pumper truck out of the Mill Street fire station, is out of commission for about a year, thanks to a small hole in its frame.

Fire Engine 3 has already been off the road since early November when a dime-sized hole and some corrosion in the frame rail near the exhaust system were discovered during some routine maintenance.

It will be between five and six months before the 2007 Pierce truck can be sent to Wisconsin for the $184,015 in repairs and then take another six months to get fixed.

Pierce Manufacturing will only pick up the $8,330 tab for the replacing the failed galvanized frame rail, but not the $82,020 cost to remove and replace the part, Chief Dale C. Herman said. The 12-year-old truck is no longer under warranty.

But the city has learned many cities with Pierce trucks are in the same boat and are having the exact same corrosion problem, Chief Herman said. A class action lawsuit has been filed against the fire truck manufacturer by the communities.

City Manager Rick Finn said that it’s frustrating that Pierce Manufacturing “is not standing behind its product,” causing hardship for the city.

“We really do not have any other choices,” Mr. Finn said.

The 13-year-old Engine 2, out of the State Street station, is showing signs of the same kind of corrosion and is currently in Syracuse getting treatment, so the condition doesn’t get worse, Chief Herman said.

While Engine 3 is away, the fire truck also will undergo refurbishing at a cost of $110,325 and will come back like new and keep the truck on the road for another 10 years. The work includes fixing worn seats, running boards, exterior corrosion and other items.

Chief Herman said the situation is worrisome if a major event occurs without the full fleet. Other pieces of equipment will fill in until Engine 3 returns.

“It’s like going into battle with one boot on,” he said. “That’s the hand we’re dealt with.”

Mr. Finn said the city will explore any possible legal recourse it might have against Pierce.

The city will pay the $115,000 for the refurbishment by taking funds out of the capital reserve and transfer it to the capital projects fund. The remainder of the funding will be taken from unused funding within the budget.


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