Homewood opts for less computer technology on new fire engine

  This Midlothian fire engine is similar to the one
  Homewood Fire Department will be purchasing
  after trustees approved the expenditure at the 
  Tuesday board meeting.
(Photo provided by 
  Homewood Fire Department)

The Homewood Fire Department’s new engine will still be red.

That’s what Fire Chief Bob Grabowski assured residents after he spoke to the village board before the purchase was approved by trustees at their meeting on Sept. 12.

“I don’t often stand before the board for purchasing, but when I do it’s for a lot of money,” he said.

Homewood will buy the new pump truck from Global Emergency Products for $596,897. That includes an upfront payment of $320,000 for the chassis. Making that payment will save the village $14,432.

The rest is paid when the truck is delivered sometime in July 2018. A recent bond issue earmarked $650,000 for the purchase.

 The Homewood Fire Department was able to save money on the truck while also being more specific with its features by buying it through the Houston-Galveston Area Council, a cooperative purchasing program that helps local governments and nonprofits.

“I just want to applaud the department for going out and finding the cooperative purchasing all the way down in the Houston-Galveston area,” Trustee Larry Burnson said. “I think our residents need to know that they’re really looking outside the box. Cooperative purchasing, usually it’s just south suburban or Illinois. They went down to Texas.”

The engine is a Pierce Enforcer, Grabowski said. It has a custom-built chassis with a 750-gallon tank and a Detroit Diesel 500-horsepower motor. When a fire hose is hooked up to a hydrant, the truck can pump 1,500 gallons of water per minute.

“The vehicle is a fully (National Fire Protection Association) compliant engine that comes with a full complement of ground ladders and a hose bed that will carry over 1,000 feet of both supply and attack hose,” Grabowski said.

Grabowski wanted the new vehicle to be without the “multiplex” computer system that’s on most of the department’s other vehicles.

“We’re going back to a more simplified system, less computers,” he said. “We have a lot of down time because of computer issues, so that’s one of the things that I require.”

The department currently has two fire engines, one of which will be sold for approximately $35,000 to $45,000. Grabowski said the trade-in value would have been around $25,000.

That engine, No. 128, is a 1997 Smeal/HME pumper. It’s not currently in use as it has a transmission problem. Grabowski said it will likely be sent to a department in Central America or South America.

“When I got hired back in 2009, we had a number of vehicles that were in need of replacement. The first thing I did, as chief, was to put down a replacement schedule for the vehicles,” Grabowski said. “We’ve got a very, very strict maintenance schedule, both as required by the standards that the fire department has and the outside agencies.”

Engines are on 20-year replacement cycle, the chief said, because the cost to keep them up longer than that can become an issue. 


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