Kneehill County approves almost $1 million for new fire engine

Written by Stu Salkeld

The equipment needed for emergency services will get more expensive as years go by heard Kneehill County council at their Feb. 14 regular meeting, the same meeting where they approved almost $1 million for a new fire engine.

Councillors read a report from Kevin Gannon, director community services, who presented the results of a tender for a new fire engine the results of which came in hundreds of thousands of dollars higher than expected. “With the quotes now in, all options are above the $790,000 that was budgeted,” stated Gannon in his report to council.

“Council made a motion in Nov. to move forward with multiple capital equipment plan purchases, including the engine for the Three Hills fire district,” stated Gannon’s report. “A memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the purchase was signed identifying the ownership split between the town, 30 per cent funding, and county, 70 per cent funding.”

The results of the tender were not included in the staff report, but Gannon stated the lowest offer was $993,352.80 and all other offers were over $1 million in price, some approaching $1.2 million.

He stated that two existing fire engines in Three Hills are being replaced with this one engine, which offers cost savings and increased efficiency. He stated the two Three Hills engines have both been in service past their recommended life spans.

He noted in his report that the county is looking into the possibility of an existing fire engine chassis at the supplier which could reduce costs a bit; however, this option isn’t definite.

Gannon also provided councillors with quite a bit of statistical information showing how, since 2016, the price of emergency vehicles has increased dramatically. He noted the price of some vehicles has increased roughly 50 per cent, while the federal government claims raw materials alone have grown in costs by about 40 per cent.

Coun. Wade Christie asked if this new fire engine was similar to others Kneehill County had recently purchased. Gannon stated there were only minor differences.

Coun. Debbie Penner noted Kneehill County in the past has kept a spare fire engine around just to be cautious, and asked if that practice continues. Debra Grosfield, protective services manager, responded yes, Kneehill County has the 20 year old Acme fire engine on hand as a back-up which is stored in the county shop.

Grosfield noted that Kneehill County may have to look at vehicle retirement milestones as build times for new emergency equipment is taking 18 to 24 months.

She also noted that retired vehicles such as fire engines and ambulances, have dollar value. Grosfield noted Kneehill County recently sold a retired ambulance at auction for $12,000, and she predicted the two retiring fire engines would also fetch respectable prices, adding that Kneehill County always maintains its fire trucks as front line capable.

Coun. Christie asked if one of the old trucks could be kept for training purposes, but Grosfield responded it’s best to train staff on new equipment so they become familiar with new technology and equipment lay-out.

County Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mike Haugen stated he wanted to ensure councillors understood that while they were being asked to pass a resolution to pay the entire amount of the fire engine, the Town of Three Hills will reimburse the county 30 per cent of the cost.

Deputy Reeve Ken King, who was chairing the meeting, asked Gannon if this price was final or it would increase later, to which Gannon answered this was the tender price being accepted.

Deputy Reeve King stated councillors were moving ahead reluctantly. “I know none of us really like to eat this kind of a price increase, but it’s the real world,” said King. “Boy, these are no longer toys.”

Coun. Faye McGhee made the motion to accept the lowest offer, adding that councillors had to do it because the county needed the fire engine. Councillors unanimously approved the lowest tender for the fire engine.

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.