Council transfers $55k to repair Trochu fire truck

ECA Review/File
Written by Stu Salkeld

Kneehill County council passed a resolution to transfer $55,000 from a reserve account to an emergency services account to repair a Trochu fire truck. The decision was made at the Oct. 23 regular meeting of council.

The council meeting was chaired by newly-elected Reeve Ken King; long-time readers of the ECA Review will know that Coun. Jerry Wittstock previously served as reeve but at the organizational meeting held Oct. 23 Wittstock nominated King as reeve and there were no other nominations.

Debra Grosfield, protective services manager, presented councillors with a request for $55,000 to repair an important firefighting vehicle, specifically a problem with a pump.

“Following the annual mandatory pump testing, the contractor identified pump problems with the Trochu Tender 65,” stated Grosfield’s report to council. “As such a replacement is recommended, however it will take up to 14 weeks for the parts to arrive, and the truck will then be down for one week during repairs.

“The approved protective services operating budget does not have sufficient funds to cover this replacement.

Administration has looked at different options such as a pump repair versus a replacement. “Pump Repair – A rebuild could result in downtime of up to six months, depending on parts when they open up the truck. And the cost will likely exceed a replacement in the end.

“Pump Replacement – cost is estimated at $48,000. “The tender pump may still be used as a backup, it just can’t reach the pressures necessary to pass the test.
Even without the pump, the truck can still transport water to a fire scene.

“Our backup unit will be used for temporary in-service needs during the one-week repair, when required.

“Administration is recommending that funds be taken from contingency reserve, due to this unexpected level of repair.”

Readers should note a fire tender is a large, expensive and important firefighting vehicle.

During discussion Grosfield noted parts needed to repair the tender are manufactured only in Austria, or possibly Minnesota, which explained the substantial downtime and that fire truck equipment is very specialized. She added that the county usually budgets $5,000 per department for repairs per year.

“That budget does not cover (this request),” she said.

As the options were discussed Grosfield explained rebuilding the pump could take up to six months and eventually cost more than buying a new one; That estimate, she noted, was based on previous rebuilding projects.

Grosfield also noted the request for $55,000 included a bit of contingency funds. When asked how old the fire tender is, Grosfield said it is a 2012 model.

Coun. Debbie Penner asked if the fire tender in question is fully owned by the county, or partially owned with other municipalities. Grosfield answered that all fire tender vehicles are fully owned by Kneehill County.

Reeve King added it would have been nice to have a partner. “It would be nice to share the repair bill but unfortunately in this case we can’t do that,” said the reeve.
Coun. Carrie Fobes asked if staff would boost fire department repair money in future budgets to avoid requests like this.

County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mike Haugen responded by saying staff may look at that but when budgeting repair funds staff try to balance trends they’re noticing with “one-offs,” and it might be better for “one-offs” such as this request to come directly to council.

Coun. Jerry Wittstock clarified the county was replacing a pump not a truck, and also asked if the old pump has salvage value, to which Grosfield responded staff won’t know that until it’s replaced.

Councillors passed a resolution to authorize the transfer of up to $55,000 from the contingency reserve to the protective services budget for this repair.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.