Danbury to rebuild two firetrucks for price of one
DANBURY — Two Danbury firetrucks will be rebuilt from the ground up for less than the price of one new truck under a plan for upgrades to the fleet approved last week.
The pair of 2008 pumper trucks — the stereotypical red trucks that respond to most fires but do not have ladders — will cost $600,000 to completely rebuild, instead of the roughly $750,000 per truck the department would have to pay to buy new, Fire Chief T.J. Wiedl said.
“It’s really a huge savings for the city and, these days, I have to be cost effective,” Wiedl said. “We were really on the cutting edge when we did this with our ladder truck a few years ago, but now just about everyone is opting for this route because it’s such a substantial savings.”
The trucks will be rebuilt from the chassis up — one will even have its chassis rebuilt — and returned as basically new vehicles by national firetruck firm Pierce Manufacturing, Wiedl said.
Although they’re 10 years old, the upgrades will make the pair the new primary vehicles in the department’s fleet of six pumper trucks and two ladder trucks.
“They’re our workhorses,” Wiedl said.
Pierce Manufacturing rebuilt one of the depart- ment’s ladder trucks several years ago and it’s still one of the department’s main vehicles, even though it’s almost 20 years old now. Wiedl invited the Pierce team this year to evaluate the two pumper trucks and they determined they could not just be salvaged, but brought back to nearly new at a fraction of the cost of an actual new truck.
The rebuilt trucks are supposed to get another five or six years added to their lifespan, but Wiedl is confident they can get even more.
“That’s what I thought at first, but I believe it’s going to be longer; we may get eight or 10 years out of them,” he said. “They came back just like new so we haven’t seen any flaws or rebuilds.”
The upgrades will be paid for from city reserve funds and the sale of other retired fire equipment at the city surplus auction, Finance Director David St. Hilaire said.
The department’s other four pumper trucks, a pair from 2012 and another from 2016, likely also will wind up in the same cycle several years from now, Wiedl said.
“The chief has done a really good job with this,” Mayor Mark Boughton said. “That’s a huge savings for taxpayers from the $1.4 million or $1.6 million or whatever it would cost for two fully new trucks. That goes a long way.”
Firefight Eric Freundt, left, and Lt. Tom Corbett, towel dry a firetruck after it’s daily wash at the Engine 24 fire house on Eagle Road in Danbury on April 5, 2017.