GREAT FALLS — On Tuesday night, the Great Falls City Commission gave Great Falls Fire Rescue the go-ahead to submit a FEMA application requesting a grant worth $1.17M. If the application is approved, the money will be put toward a new 107’ "aerial apparatus" (ladder truck) to replace the current 1996 Smeal 75’ Quint.
The estimated cost for the new truck is $1.25M, according to the city, plus an additional $50,000 which GFFR says will go toward additional equipment.
“According to the National Fire Protection Association, Annex D, they also recommend replacing aerial apparatuses at the 25-year mark,” explained GFFR Chief Jeremy Jones. “We are now at 26.”
The $130,000 discrepancy between the grant amount and the projected total cost will be paid for by the city. According to city documents, the use of the vehicle that GFFR hopes to replace has been stunted by cost and service issues. Documents provided by the city detail the current issues:
“The 1996 Smeal 75’ Ladder Truck (Quint) has had some significant structural problems during its operational service time with GFFR. Some of these issues required transporting the vehicle back to the manufacturer in 2004 for frame and body strengthening. Unfortunately this apparatus was not specified correctly for weight and service requirements prior to its purchase. Since 2004, this apparatus has seen limited use as a reserve aerial apparatus for the citizens of this community. This has been in part due to increased mechanical cost to operate and unreliability to stay in service.”
"It would be a single rear-axle truck, it would give us the maneuverability that our current platform does not have within the community, and it would also provide us with another resource for first response,” said Jones.
He expects to find out in September or October if the grant will be awarded.