Edinburgh council plays catch-up to update town equipment

Some Edinburgh departments’ wishes are being granted through the purchase of $1.2 million in new equipment.

The Edinburgh Town Council recently approved the purchase of new equipment for Edinburgh Fire & Rescue and the water department, after department leadership explained the purchase was needed to replace long-outdated equipment.

Justin Lollar, Edinburgh Fire & Rescue Chief, requested a new FB-94 Custom Pumper Fire Truck that costs approximately $669,800. Bill Jones, water superintendent, requested a RAMVAC HX-12, or a new vac truck, that costs $577,105.48. Both requests were approved by the town council earlier this month.

The existing fire truck was 29 years old and in disrepair, making it inadequate for the department’s uses, according to the resolution.

“(We ran) into certain issues as far as (the) replacement (of) parts and maintenance, ongoing, continual maintenance-type issues that we ran into with an older apparatus. Just finding accessibility to parts and repairs,” Lollar said.

The new fire truck will give the department dependability knowing it is a new apparatus and has more up-to-date key features like better lighting and a bigger compartment space that allows them to carry the appropriate tools and have an EMS cabinet, he said.

Down the road, the department would like to get a new ambulance to replace one that is five years old and approaching 100,000 miles.

Council President Ryan Piercefield said the council is now playing catch-up after there was a lapse in replacing key town vehicles, Piercefield said at a previous town council meeting.

“(The expenses) might have been neglectful for the last 30 years or so,” Piercefield previously said.… I can’t attest to what happened 15 years ago, but the fact that we’re having to update equipment that didn’t get updated properly. I can tell you, from all these (departments’) standpoint, there was a lot that needed to be updated.”

Piercefield said he doesn’t want the public to think the council is frivolously spending money. He said spending needs to always be carefully examined and scrutinized. However, particularly with the new fire truck, he said it is worth the price.

“Again, (with the fire truck) we’re replacing a lifesaving piece of equipment that’s over 30 years old. I don’t know how I can put a value on that. If it saves one life, it’s worth everything to me, just for that instance alone,” he said. “And I don’t mean that to try to justify anything we’ve done (but) that is some of what has come off. We’re trying to catch up for a lot of people.”

Jones has also experienced difficulties with the water equipment that is being replaced.

Currently, the department has two vac trucks but both can’t be used for different reasons. One of the vac trucks, bought in 2019, is used by the sewer department and Jones doesn’t want to cross-contaminate. The other vac truck, bought in 2005, has been pushed to its limits, he said.

The old vac truck has been damaged several times. The transmission has been rebuilt two times, which cost approximately $22,000 each time, he said. Other problems current problems with the truck would cost more than $110,000 to fix.

“It just makes more sense to spend $500,000 and buy a complete truck,” he said. “… I hate technology on trucks because the computer stuff is what kills you the most, and this other truck that we’re looking at … is one of those that doesn’t have near the computers on it so it has a remote control and a lot of manual stuff on it so there’s less issues to worry about.”

These aren’t the only pieces of equipment Jones has struggled with.

He used to have a 1996 model backhoe. He didn’t have permission from the council to buy a new one until two years ago and with the purchase, he said he saved $70,000 buying a nice one.

He replaced a 2007 Chevy that he spent $15,000 trying to fix, and he also replaced a 1996 Chevy, which was his oldest truck.

“We service ours and take good care of them, so we get a lot of life out of them,” Jones said. “But when you run them to death, you don’t get anything out of them. When you take them to auction, you only get $500 for them.”

Jones said his service vehicles are in good shape now. He would like to replace a 2001 model dump truck within the next two years, but may use it until it stops working.

The new vac truck is expected to be delivered in September or October, while officials didn’t give an estimate on when the fire truck would be ready.