Fire Marshal Brad Crisp announced Tuesday that the Wichita Fire Department recently purchased nine new Pierce fire engines and a new ladder truck for use at city fire stations.
Fire Stations 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 received the engines, which Crisp said offer better visibility for crews and lower hose beds that reduce the risk of injury when fire crews are retrieving the hoses.
The engines were purchased for roughly $6.5 million through the city’s 10-year capital improvement program. Five of the engines that they are replacing were recently auctioned off online. They sold for $23,650 to $56,100, said Jay Newton, the city’s fleet and facilities superintendent.
The old engines, from the 1990s, were on the department’s reserve status “for quite some time,” though they were still being used, Crisp said.
New engines started coming in last December. With the new engines in place, some of the older trucks will be moved to reserve status, Crisp said.
“It’s imperative that our fire trucks are in good shape,” Crisp said. “We have better reserve apparatus than we’ve had in a while.”
In 2002, the department moved to standardize its fleet with exclusively Pierce engines, manufactured in Appleton, Wis. It made a large purchase then and again in 2007, Newton said.
All of the new vehicles, which were custom-built for the Wichita Fire Department, are equipped with Jaws of Life units, used for rescuing people pinned in vehicle wreckage. The Jaws of Life is “a huge benefit over having to wait for other apparatus to show up,” Crisp said.
The department also announced the hiring 17 new recruits who started training this week. A federal grant was used to fill six of those vacancies, with a preference for military veterans, according to a news release. The grant allows the department to restore six firefighter positions that were cut from the budget a year ago.
Lt. Matt Schulte, president of the local firefighters union, said the hiring of the firefighters will reduce overall response time and ease the burden on current staff. The new firefighters are expected to complete training in the fall.
Contributing: Stan Finger of The Eagle