Dinwiddie VA Plans Fire Apparatus Purchases

Dinwiddie County (VA) is purchasing three new trucks earlier than expected after one truck was totaled in an accident last year, bumping the $1.44 million purchase to this year for a savings of $24,000.

The three fire trucks were originally budgeted in the 2014 capital improvement plan, but the nearly $350,000 insurance settlement that the county received from the loss of the one fire truck created a potential savings with a bulk purchase.

Engine 2 from the Ford Volunteer station was totaled after it rolled into a burning tractor-trailer in June 2012. The engine and a tanker from the same station were the first to respond to the scene of a tractor-trailer on fire along Cox Road/U.S. Route 460.

When the firefighters emptied the truck and prepared to fight the fire, Engine 2 rolled forward into the flames and ended up in an embankment. No one was injured in the accident, which heavily damaged the engine’s rear and cab.

Division Chief of Fire and EMS Dennis Hale said that the accident was due to a combination of human and mechanical error. He said that the driver, who had driven fire trucks for Dinwiddie for over 20 years, had put the fire truck in park.

The engine’s transmission, however, remained in a driving setting when it should have been switched to a mode that further grounds the engine and prepares it to pump water.

The unforeseen loss of Engine 2 triggered a bidding war that eventually led the county to accelerate the purchase of all three trucks.

The Board of Supervisors authorized that the county advertise bids for the purchase of a single unit, as well as the three units simultaneously, late last year. The lowest, responsive bid from FESCO Emergency Sales based in Elkridge, Md., offered $1.44 million for the three units, or $479,450 per unit. The lowest bid for the purchase on a single unit was $487,450.

On April 16, supervisors gave the green light for County Administrator Kevin Massengill to award the contract for the purchase of three engines in an amount not to exceed $1.44 million to FESCO Emergency Sales.

County staff budgeted $1.45 million for the three fire trucks, equating to about $485,000 per unit. Division Chief of Finance Anne Howerton said that the extra money will remain in the fiscal year 2013 capital improvement budget, and will go toward other projects slated for this year. Hale said that one more ambulance is scheduled to be replaced this year, while another ambulance will be replaced next year.

The two engines that weren’t damaged were over 20 years old, driving up the maintenance costs and leaving the county with increasingly outdated technology, Hale said. Recently, when one engine would break down, staff would have to use salvaged parts from another broken-down vehicle during the repair.

The new engines will also help bring the county up to snuff with national standards. The six-man cabs will come equipped with a mandated recording device, a larger generator, increased lighting, back-up cameras and more air bags.

The three new trucks will bring the county’s engine count up to six. The Fire and EMS apparatus also includes six ambulances and some tankers and brush trucks, which provide supplemental support to the engines during a fire. Dinwiddie also shares some apparatus with Prince George County at the Carson Volunteer Fire station.

The two non-damaged engines, Engine 4 at Namozine Volunteer Fire Department and Engine 5 at Old Hickory Volunteer Fire Department, will be moved to the reserve system. The current reserves, a 1987 E One engine and a 1984 FMC engine, will be removed from service.

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