City prepares to buy another fire engine

Published 9:59 pm Sunday, May 1, 2016

Just months after buying a new fire engine, Washington is in the market for another one.

Robbie Rose, chief of the Washington Fire-Rescue- EMS Department, informed the City Council on Monday that Engine 3, a reserve engine, failed a recent test because its pump is not working properly. Repairing the pump would cost at least $12,000, said Rose, adding that he does not believe the city should invest that much money in repairing the fire engine, which is 28 years old.

The City Council voted 4-1 to spend about $500,000 for a fire engine to replace Engine 3. Council members Richard Brooks, Virginia Finnerty, William Pitt and Larry Beeman voted to buy the apparatus, with Councilman Doug Mercer dissenting.

Rose said not having Engine 3 available to respond to structure fires could affect the city’s fire rating, which influences fire-insurance rates. To help protect that rating, the city and the Bunyan Volunteer Fire Department are negotiating a mutual-aid agreement that calls for the Bunyan department to send a fire engine to structure fires in the city.

Mercer lobbied for repairing the pump on Engine 3, then using Engine 3 until Rose and his staff could design a custom-built fire engine and have it manufactured.

Council members debated the merits of Mercer’s proposal and acquiring a new fire engine — either a custom-built one or a functioning “demo” engine — as soon as possible. The council majority believe acquiring a new fire engine is more prudent and better protects the city’s fire rating, a five out of 10.

Last year, the council approved funding for a new front-line fire engine. But discrepancies with the year model for that new apparatus were discovered by fire department personnel during an inspection of the vehicle, according to Rose. In a memorandum to the mayor and council, Rose wrote that “in consideration that this was inconsistent with the information originally provided to the Council for consideration; we terminated that purchase transaction.”

On Sept. 28, 2015, the council authorized spending $450,000 on a new fire engine from C.W. Williams Co. in Rocky Mount. The company services the city’s fire engines.

Rose wrote that the department sent requests to seven fire-engine vendors for bids to provide the department with in-stock/demonstration models. An eighth vendor contacted the department about submitting its bid, Rose noted. After reviewing the proposals, the department recommends the city buy a stock 2015 Pierce fire engine from Atlantic Emergency Solutions at a cost of $448,995.

The Pierce fire engine best meets the immediate needs of the department for a front-line fire engine, according to Rose.

During Monday’s meeting, Rose said firefighters are extremely pleased with that engine.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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