Wright Township Volunteer Fire Department has a new fire truck.
New to them, at least.
A broker in East Earl, Pa., arranged for the Wright fire department to buy the 2005 Pierce Pumper Tanker from an Eagan, Minn., fire company that was restructuring and selling off some equipment.
The department paid $399,000 for the truck with a $50,000 down payment, financing the rest over 10 years. Pettit said the department’s letter drive, bazaar and other fundraisers –including a current raffle of an ATV or $10,000 cash, to be held Nov. 11 –help to finance equipment purchases like this one.
“We’ve been saving for years,” he said, noting the department’s other trucks are aging and good deals on used vehicles aren’t easy to find.
This truck was originally listed at $450,000, Pettit said, but the next day the price had changed to $399,000.
“We called immediately.”
The new truck will take the place of a 1984 Mack Tanker, which the department intends to sell for around $20,000.
Why the price difference? The old truck is only a tanker; the new truck, a pumper tanker, can do the work of two kinds of trucks. It holds as much water as the old truck –2,500 gallons –but it can also pump the water. It will help to extend the life of some of the department’s other trucks because they’ll be used less frequently, Pettit said.
“It’ll be a tremendous help in non-hydrant areas” where all water must be hauled to the site of the fire, he added. That includes most of Rice Township and parts of Wright.
Operating well in non-hydrant areas has become even more important since Wright began providing services for Rice about four years ago, when Rice Township decommissioned its fire department and contracted with Wright for 10 years.
Rice Township continues to give Wright one bay of its former fire hall for equipment storage. Wright stores two brush trucks and some of its less critical equipment there. Pettit said the department is still negotiating with Rice Township to determine how long-term equipment storage will be handled.
The new pumper tanker came certified, meaning the pump was inspected, the fluids changed and everything checked for functionality, “just like buying a certified used car, but for a lot more money,” Pettit said.
But the new truck isn’t in use just yet. The department is still outfitting it with hoses and other equipment, and the “Wright Township VFD” lettering needs to be affixed to the sides. Pettit estimates the truck will begin service in mid-August, and then the old Mack tanker can be sold.
Pettit says the department “should be all right for awhile” with its current equipment, which includes five major trucks and six support vehicles. But at the same time, he always keeps an eye out for good deals on used equipment. The department tries to project its needs five to 15 years ahead of time because equipment is so expensive that advance planning is essential. For instance, the department bought a Pierce Quantum Pumper brand new in 1999 for $337,000. Buying the same truck new would now cost $700,000, he said.
Another ongoing challenge for the department is staffing. Pierce said there are 60 volunteer firefighters on the roster, but only about 15 to 20 are consistently available. Through active recruiting, the department has added new members in the past few months, but they’re always looking for more, he said.
To buy a ticket for the Wright and Dorrance fire departments’ raffle of a 2018 Polaris UTV/ATV or $10,000 cash, call 570-868-3765 ext. 700. Tickets are $20, and the two departments will split proceeds evenly. For more information, go to wtvfd.comor facebook.com(search for “Wright Township Volunteer Fire Department”.