Beverly Hills (MI) has decided to buy its own fire apparatus after unable to reach a contract with Birmingham to use its ladder truck.
By unanimous vote, the village council agreed to purchase a 2011 Pierce 105-foot ladder truck from a fire department in Oregon at a cost of $744,527. Another $10,000 or so is being budgeted for modifications. While the truck has approximately 14,000 miles on it, Public Safety Director Rich Torongeau said it’s a demo vehicle that has never been used in service.
The village needs to replace a 27-year-old ladder truck that is broken down and too costly to fix. Village Manager Chris Wilson recently met with Birmingham officials to explore the possibility of using its ladder truck on a contractual basis, but the two sides were unable to reach an agreement.
Wilson said it would cost the village about $1,000 per hour to use the Birmingham ladder truck. In 2012, the village ladder truck was sent on 63 fire runs — so it’s safe to assume it would be used 50-60 times a year.
In addition, the village would need to enter into a second agreement with another municipality in the event the Birmingham truck was in service. With those two factors in mind, the numbers just didn’t add up.
The discussion underscored the difficultly that neighboring communities have when it comes to sharing fire equipment. On paper, it makes sense for adjacent municipalities to share a ladder truck that is only needed on a limited basis. But making the deal work is a more difficult task, raising labor issues and questions about where the equipment should be housed.
“I do support this,” Councilman John Mooney said. “But it is disheartening to me that we’re going to have so many ladder trucks within two miles of this building … and the reason behind that has very little to do with the rationale of fighting fires.”
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