The Fire Department is making a $1,000,000 investment in Scio Township's future


All vehicles have a lifespan; especially emergency vehicles that get a lot of use and have certain standards they need to meet. This is where the Scio Township Fire Department is with its water tanker.

The township fire department’s 2002 tanker is nearing the end of its lifespan, so the department wants to have a replacement plan in place. At the Jan. 9 township board meeting, Scio Township Fire Chief Andy Houde went before the board seeking approval to purchase a new pumper/tanker to replace the existing unit.

In his report to the board of trustees, Houde said “Fire Department vehicles have a defined lifespan under NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards.”

“They can be expected to be in frontline service for no more than 15 years, and in reserve service for no more than an additional 10,” Houde explained. “There are many reasons for this standard such as regard to safety for firefighters, technology improvements that make older vehicles less able to meet modern demands, parts and components become less available, and they just wear out after decades in service and become unreliable.”

He said they “currently find ourselves in that position with our water tanker.”

“This vehicle is used to move water to areas of Scio that do not have municipal water supplies, which is 75 percent of our community, as well as when called upon for mutual aid,” Houde said of the tanker. “Our water tanker is a 2002 model year, which should have been placed in reserve in 2017, and should be retired in 2027.”

Houde told the Sun Times News the replacement vehicle will be a little bit different than the existing one; “it will be more structured to perform and serve as a regular engine as well.”

“Our current pumper/tanker isn’t designed with this functionality in mind, though it has some of the needed components,” he explained. “The new one will have more compartment space for tools and equipment, and better selection of fire hoses, among other nuances. This vehicle will be able to serve as our reserve pumper, allowing us to eliminate one vehicle from the fleet.”

One thing the Scio department is building into all of their new fire vehicles, Houde said, is a bumper winch.

“The thought here is that we are going to be seeing increasing instances of electric vehicles on fire and will need a mechanism to move them to a safer place to burn in some cases,” he said. “A winch and chain set will be standard going forward for this reason. “

A challenge with such important vehicles like this is that they are also expensive.

Houde detailed in his report the department’s financial side of the proposal.

“Traditionally, we would budget funds each year to replace our vehicles when they reach the end of their service life,” explained Houde in the report. “Unfortunately, we have not had the ability in Scio to pre-fund vehicle replacement. To date, we are approximately $1,000,000 short in fund balance, with no dedicated fund for vehicle replacement. With the current revenue recognition authorized by the board we will correct the fund balance issue and be able to put funds into a capital replacement fund.”

The department will need to place an order for a replacement tanker within the next 18 months to maintain compliance with NFPA standards. Houde said if they do not intend to maintain the reserve tanker, they should plan to replace it at 15 years, while the existing one still has reasonable value and can help offset the purchase price.

The Scio department is able to take advantage of a couple of ways to save money on the purchase. Scio Township is a Sourcewell ( member, which is a cooperative purchasing program.

Houde said, “The vehicle had a pre-bid negotiated discount applied saving almost 10 percent, and we saved an additional $96,000 by paying in full for the vehicle at the time of purchase. All told, we just made a $1,000,000 investment in Scio’s future; this new pumper/tanker will be in front line service into the 2040s.”

Unfortunately, the department will not see the vehicle for quite a while, as according to the plan, the manufacturer is projecting an 850-day lead time to delivery, so the existing tanker will be used for a few more years.

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