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City will look into fire truck purchase

Farmington City Council members gave the Farmington Fire Department the go-ahead Monday to start looking for a new fire engine.

At a workshop meeting, council members told firefighters to start looking into the benefits of a demo truck and a new truck, and to do it soon. Some council members want to have a new engine in place by the end of this year.

The FFD has a committee of eight members who are working on a proposal for a new engine. The new engine, which will also be equipped as a rescue truck, will become one of the department's primary engines, allowing the department to use one of its older engines as a back-up truck. It will also replace a 1986 rescue truck that is ready to be retired.

Buying getting a new fire engine will also likely allow the department to increase its rating with the Insurance Services Office, an organization that some insurance companies use as a determination for the rates they charge their customers.

Not a hard sell

FFD truck committee member Jim Schmitz not only walked council through the advantages of getting another engine, but pointed out the many needs in the fleet. A number of trucks are older and need to be replaced for one reason or another.

The committee went by standards established by the National Fire Protection Association when it came to things like determining a truck's lifespan, Powers said. While Farmington's trucks do not necessarily have high mileage - the 1986 rescue truck has approximately 100,000 miles on it - the NFPA bases its recommendations on age, not mileage.

"It's not like your personal vehicle," fire chief Tim Pietsch told council. When firefighters get a call, they throw on their gear, jump on a truck "and it's pedal to the metal to get to the call," he said. Once at a fire, a truck can be running for hours, often at a high RPM to control the water pressure.

"They're just used and abused. It's the nature of our business," Pietsch said.

Council member Christy Jo Fogarty said she would like Farmington to consider a partnership with neighboring communities, but was told neither Lakeville nor Rosemount has interest in merging with Farmington. Part of the reason, mayor Todd Larson said, is due to Farmington's current equipment.

"The one thing that was brought up was, 'Why would we want to partner with you and your old equipment?'" Larson said.

Council members are not interested in buying a used vehicle from another community. However, they asked the committee to look at a demo truck -where a manufacturer would build a truck for Farmington, but then use it for demonstration purposes for six to nine months - and a new truck. Though waiting for a demo truck could set the process back by several months, council members wanted to know if there are cost savings that come from going that route.

Powers also talked about a program called HGAC Buy, which was established to assist municipalities in making large purchases like emergency vehicles, through a consortium-style bid process.

The committee was told to work up a few proposals and bring them back to council for consideration.

"Just go out there and do the best you can do for us," Fogarty said. "I trust you guys to do the best you can for the city."

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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