January 25, 2012In response to the estimate from Valley Fire Equipment for Fire Engine Four, a pair of Budget Committee members have created their own estimate for an alternative option for repairing the 25-year-old truck.
Kevin Leandro and Pat LaBonte, whom Leandro said have a combined 70 years experience with heavy diesel trucks, estimated last week that repairs to keep Engine Four in service for a few more years would cost about $10,500 if done mostly in house and by the Department of Public Works.
They also noted that the truck could be fitted with LED emergency lights for an additional $7,500, bringing the total to about $18,000; they noted, however, that the LED light upgrade was, in their opinion, more of a "want, not a need."
Initially, at the request of budget committee members, Fire Chief Steve Carrier looked to get estimates to repair Fire Engine Four as an alternative to purchasing a new fire engine, which would allow for the fire department to take Engine Four out of service. The new fire engine would cost Gilford taxpayers about $450,000, which would be paid through a 10-year bond.
Carrier said he requested estimates from Valley Fire Equipment and Lakes Region Fire Apparatus. According to Carrier, Lakes Region Fire Apparatus did not reply with an estimate, and Valley Fire Equipment sent back an estimate for repairs ranging from $125,000 to $150,000.
According to Board of Fire Engineers Chairman Bill Akerley, the quoted repair cost would be about 25 percent of the purchase price on a new fire engine, and typically, no mater what the vehicle, he said owners would opt to purchase the new vehicle.
After reviewing the Valley quote, Leandro said the total was outrageous.
After Budget Committee members voted not to support Warrant Article 1a, which would have allocated $150,000 for repairs to Engine Four, Leandro and LaBonte felt compelled to create their own estimate as a possible alternative.
Their list of necessary repairs included several items which they claim could be done by DPW mechanics, such as all four cab mounts, which they estimated to cost about $400 and take about six hours. They suggested, as well, that the leaking gearbox output shaft seal should be repaired by Lakes Region Fire Apparatus, and would cost about $2,500. They also estimated that six new tires would cost about $750 each from Belknap Tire or Northeast Tire, and the old tires should be rotated to the DPW for use on one of the Mack RD plow trucks.
Presenting the Steamer with his and LaBonte's proposal during an interview last week, Leandro said "We recognize that repairs don't always go as planned, which sometimes results in additional time and parts; therefore, we decided to give the benefit of doubt, so we over-estimated by a factor of 50 percent on labor and parts."
Leandro estimated that all repairs could be completed in a matter of weeks.
According to Akerley, however, if the truck went to Valley for repairs, it would be out of service for about six to eight months, during which time the department would need to rent a fourth fire engine.
Leandro and LaBonte's proposal did not include estimates to rebuild the Engine Four water pump, which, according to Carrier, initially failed its last annual test on Aug. 27. According to Carrier, the pump acted abnormally, leading firefighters to think it may need to be rebuilt.
According to Carrier, the new fire engine would be put into service by December if Gilford voters approved the purchase. In Leandro's view, that means the Board of Fire Engineers must have already considered costs for repairs to keep Engine Four in service until December.
"If Article 1 passes, then the new truck won't be delivered until late December or January ," Leandro said. "So I would think the FD has already budgeted to keep Engine Four maintained for another whole year."
With the Budget Committee failing to support the purchase of the new fire engine with a tied vote, six to six, voters will be left to make the final decision on whether or to purchase a new engine during the town election in March.
Town Administrator Scott Dunn said last week that the estimate by Leandro and LaBonte had not yet to come to his office, and he could not speak on behalf of selectmen because they had not made an offical decision on the matter.