Wichita (KS) Getting New Fire Apparatus

The Wichita Fire Department (KS) is about to get its biggest influx of new fire engines in 11 years, the first of which could arrive as early as this week, fire and city officials said.

Deputy Chief Ron Aaron and Jay Newton, the city’s fleet and facilities superintendent, said the roughly $6.5 million order includes nine engines, or pumpers, and a truck, or aerial platform, which has a bucket that will extend 100 feet.

It is the largest order of new fire apparatus the department has received since 2002, they said.

“The community is buying this stuff, and we appreciate the commitment and support that this community provides the fire department,” Aaron said.

Pierce Manufacturing of Appleton (WI) was selected in December to provide the new apparatus after a competitive request-for-proposal process that included two other fire engine manufacturers, Pennsylvania-based KME and Florida-based E-One, Aaron and Newton said.

Pierce, a 100-year-old manufacturer of custom fire apparatus, was also the manufacturer selected by the fire and public works departments in the last large fire engine order, they said.

Aaron said one fire engine costs about $500,000. He realizes that sounds like a lot of money but adds that an average Wichita fire engine makes 1,500 calls a year.

As a general rule, the fire department tries to replace engines every eight years. Bigger, more expensive and more specialized apparatus such as quints — which serve a dual purpose as a pumper engine with a shorter aerial ladder — and trucks have longer replacement periods: 10 years for quints and 12 years for trucks.

The nine engines being replaced are between eight and nine years old, Aaron said, and the truck that is being replaced is 11 years old.

In all, the fire department has 27 “heavy apparatus” among 22 stations: 15 engines, seven quints, one rescue and four trucks, he said.

One other positive development for the fire department is that for the first time in recent history, it will have a truck on reserve status when the new one arrives. That is, once the new Truck 2 arrives, the old Truck 2 won’t be sold or auctioned. Instead, it will be retained and pressed into service when one of the other four trucks is in for regular, routine or emergency maintenance.

“Preventive maintenance is still going to take a day,” Newton said. “It’s a lot more than just changing engine oil on an apparatus. We check literally hundreds of data points (at every service interval).”

For more information, view www.kansas.com

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