Tighter budgets and decreased spending have left towns in South Bergen (NJ) short on fire trucks.
Both the Carlstadt and Rutherford Fire departments currently lack a ladder truck.
At a cost of $750,000 to $1 million a truck, municipalities are scrambling to find ways to add trucks to line budgets.
Carlstadt has been using one a loaned truck from the county and has delayed plans to purchase a new truck due to financial constraints.
Rutherford has made moves to purchase a replacement. Because towns share fire protection services through “mutual aid,” if one town is short on apparatuses, surrounding towns suffer, according to area fire officials.
Carlstadt Fire Officials pled with Mayor Will Roseman to make replacing fire trucks a priority. The municipality is facing an $800,000 deficit largely due to successful tax appeals in its industrial section in the Meadowlands.
Carlstadt has three fire engines and a ladder truck, according to Fire Chief Jarrett Milligan. The ladder truck, which is roughly 20 years old, has been out of service, resulting in the county loan. Meanwhile, two of the fire engines are in good condition while the other is 21 years old. It has led a “very hard, solid life,” but will most likely need to be replaced, according to Milligan.
The cost of replacing a fire truck starts at $600,000 to $700,000 for a “bare bones” unit, according to fire officials.
Fire officials in Carlstadt told Roseman that, after having drawn up specifications, they expected to see new trucks last year. Members of the volunteer department were disheartened when they never materialized. According to fire officials, having trucks that may not function properly lowers morale while firefighters battle fires. Milligan said he felt confident that Roseman would take his concerns seriously. “We’re working diligently with the Mayor and Council. We’ll do it as soon as the money is available,” said Milligan.
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