By Adam Quandt
A new set of wheels is set to hit the streets of Long Lake, Orono and other surrounding areas.
After a three-year process, the Long Lake Fire Department has received all of the necessary approvals to move forward in the purchase of a brand new fire engine for the department.
The Long Lake Fire Department jumped through the last hurdles of the approval process following the unanimous approval from the Orono City Council during the regular meeting on Aug. 14 and the signing of the purchase agreement by the Long Lake City Administrator, Scott Weske.
“The fire department has been very thoughtful and careful throughout the entire process,” Orono City Councilmember Richard Crosby said.
Crosby, who served as a firefighter for the Long Lake Fire Department for 10 years, was an integral part of the committee tasked with helping the fire department choose what to do to in order to replace one of their three engines.
“Our job was to evaluate what would be necessary in order to take care of the job and what was not,” Crosby said.
According to Long Lake Fire Department’s Assistant Chief John Hall, the department looked at a variety of options in order to replace a 1985 engine currently in use by the department. Hall said that fire departments of LLFDs size tend to try and keep their engines for around 20 years or a little more.
“In the beginning, we were looking at refurbishing and replacing parts on the current truck, or possibly a used truck,” Hall said. “However, we elected to go forward with a truck custom built for our community.”
The department then concluded that they would elect the best truck manufacturers that were “semi-local or at least located in the Midwest,” Hall said.
Following that decision, a variety of truck manufacturers came out with demo trucks for the department to see and analyze and explained what their companies could do for the LLFD.
In the end, the committee voted to have the truck built by Toyne, Inc. of Breda, Iowa.
Hall said that Toyne just offered all of the customization that the department was really looking for in an engine.
“It’s all very important to use because of the different features of the area we’re covering,” Hall said.
The cost of the fully customized engine will be funded through the capital improvement funds programmed for the purchase by all of the involved cities. The cost of the engine was quoted at $442,930, but additional equipment will be needed for the new engine. According to city memos, the cost of the engine is not to exceed $475,000.
Now that the department has received all of the necessary approvals for the purchase, Hall said that the manufacturing of the engine is scheduled to begin sometime next week. Hall said that the anticipated manufacturing time is somewhere between 10 to 12 months.
Following the delivery of the new engine, the department will look into options as to what to do with the 1985 engine the new one is replacing.
Hall said that they will most likely be selling the old engine. He said that they typically go to smaller departments, that don’t have the budget for a brand new engine.
All-in-all, the new engine is a breath of new life for the Long Lake Fire Department and all of its volunteer firefighters.
“This truck really shows support for the fire department,” Hall said. “It’s a big step for us. It’s a big positive thing for the firefighters.”