LONG BRANCH: Members of the Long Branch Fire Department Apparatus Committee presented a plan to upgrade the department's fleet of trucks by purchasing two new pumper trucks for $970,000.
Chief Kevin Stout said during the Sept. 23 Long Branch Council meeting that the committee was created with the goal of eventually replacing the department's fleet of firetrucks.
"The goal of the committee is provide the mayor and council with a workable, fiscally responsible solution to provide for the much needed replacement of the present day fleet of fire apparatus," Stout said.
The age and mechanical condition of several current trucks is why the committee was looking to purchase the new trucks, Stout said.
"Most of the fleet has reached its predicted service life or experience major service issues," Stout said. "We do not want to reach a point where we would be forced to appear before you to ask for an emergency appropriations to purchase fire apparatus."
The pumper is an engine that is the main source for supplying for water at the site of a fire.
The new pumpers would replace two of the older trucks in the fleet, one of which would be sold to offset the cost of the new trucks. The plan would be to sell a "problematic" ladder truck that is longer in use by the department.
The department's newest truck, a quint which is a combination of a ladder and pumper truck, should be arriving by the end of the year. It will be housed at fire headquarters on Union Avenue.
He said all new trucks will be houses in stations "based on performance projected by actual numbers of calls for service answered." Right now the stations with the most calls are Branchport Hose Company and Neptune Hose Company.
Stout said the next step would be to replace the department's 20-year-old ladder truck in a few years.
Councilwoman Mary Jane Celli asked if the fire department would be OK with the city purchasing one pumper for the department.
Stout said that while the department would accept any new trucks, purchasing two would help advance the committee's goal.
"The city has neglected the apparatus purchasing for a very long time, this plan is based on longevity, it's based on what's best for the city when it comes to fire service," Stout said.
Celli said that although she understands the problems of the fire department, she said purchasing two top of the line firetrucks might be too expensive.
"A million dollars is a lot of money for the taxpayers to absorb," Celli said. "I'm not against it, you know I've supported the fire department for a long time, but I do think that right now we can afford to (purchase two trucks)."
Council President Michael Sirianni said the council would not be making any decisions this year and that the purchase of any new firetrucks would be a capital expenditure in the 2016 budget.