Coon Rapids set to add $1 million fire truck

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 22, 2012 - 12:19 PM

The vehicle with a 100-foot aerial platform will replace one that went for $674,000 in 1997.

When was the last time you got $200,000 for selling your vehicle?

That's what the Coon Rapids Fire Department will receive for selling its 1997 ladder firetruck to the Cannon Falls department. The cash will help with the purchase of a new $1 million firetruck that will hit the streets of Coon Rapids next month.

The truck, which has a 100-foot aerial platform with a bucket, is used by the city's three fire stations. The older truck was a year past its scheduled replacement rotation but passed a required annual independent safety inspection, said Assistant Fire Chief Bret Gageby.

While Cannon Falls will spend some money to fix corrosion damage on the truck, it wouldn't have been cost-effective for Coon Rapids to do so because the department handles a much larger volume of calls, he said.

"We are getting this new firetruck because we need it, not because we want it," Gageby said. "Our number one priority is saving lives."

The process to get City Council approval for such a major purchase started last year. Besides the independent safety inspection, Gageby said, city mechanical and public works employees told the fire department it was time to replace the truck.

It had corrosion on a frame rail and the turntable for the ladder, he said, though it didn't reach a level that required taking the rig out of service.

The new firetruck will be bought in Rochester, and Coon Rapids will receive a discount price through a cooperative purchasing contract with the Houston-Galveston Area Council. City Council members asked Fire Chief John Piper lots of questions during the budget process, which Gageby said was to be expected for a costly purchase.

The similar aerial firetruck that was bought in 1997 sold for $674,000. The new truck includes features such as air bags and rollover protection.

The Coon Rapids department is staffed with full-time firefighters and administrators as well as paid on-call firefighters. There are 24 full-time firefighters, a chief and assistant chief, three captains and a fire marshal, inspector and administrative assistant. There are also 20 on-call firefighters.

Last year, firefighters responded to 4,851 calls, an average of 12 a day, said Gageby. The ladder firetruck isn't needed for every run; smaller rescue trucks handle the other calls.

Firefighters will train for a week on the new truck before it's used for calls. The old firetruck will remain on duty in Coon Rapids until the new one goes into service. The department doesn't have any planned celebrations for the new truck's arrival, but departments have a tradition of pushing a new firetruck into the station for the first time.

David Chanen • 612-673-4465

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