Brooklyn Center Considers New Fire Engine Replacement Schedule
The city of Brooklyn Center is preparing for a big purchase: replacing its aging fire truck fleet.
The city has five main fire vehicles, two with either a ladder or tower apparatus. The city is considering replacing four of them within the next few years, a considerable investment. The cost of a fire engine is at least $1 million.
“We know it’s becoming more and more expensive to not only purchase but replace vehicles, which challenges us, at least charges us to be more thoughtful,” said Brooklyn Center City Manager Reggie Edwards at the Nov. 13 council work session.
Due to the hefty price tag, Brooklyn Center is considering something it hasn’t tried before: moving up its replacement schedule by at least five years.
The city currently has a schedule of replacing its fire engines every 20 years and its aerial trucks every 25. Brooklyn Center Fire Chief Todd Berg is proposing to move the replacement plan up to 12 to 15 years. Berg says the change would save on maintenance costs and allow the city to get more money for existing trucks on the resale market.
“The other thing where we get behind the eight ball sometimes on these fire trucks, is the 20, 25 … does anybody know what things are going to cost in 20 or 25 years? And how do you budget for something like that,” Berg told council members. “If we brought that back down a little bit, I think we would be able to have much stronger numbers moving forward as well as the increased resale.”
Berg said trucks that are 20 years or older have little to no value, noting the last truck the city sold fetched only $7,900.
New Emission Regulations Another Cost Factor
If the city does move up its replacement schedule, Berg said the city could also eliminate one fire engine from its fleet to save money. That engine would be replaced by a much less expensive pick-up truck, saving the city about $1 million.
Another factor the city is considering is new emission regulations, which are expected to raise prices on fire trucks by $80,000 to $100,000 by 2026. That has some cities trying to purchase new engines before more expensive ones are required. Brooklyn Park is one of the cities that recently moved forward with new purchases to avoid the higher cost.
Cities must also consider the length of time to receive a truck. Berg says that could be anywhere from two to four years from the initial purchase depending on available supply.
Brooklyn Center Finance Director Angela Holm said the most likely replacement funding method is the property tax levy and deferred replacement for other equipment.
“We may have to forego plow trucks and other types of equipment that we would need,” said Holm.
A replacement schedule outlined by Berg would purchase two fire engines in 2026 and another in 2028. The city’s three fire engines are 21, 16 and seven years old. The ladder truck is 16 years old, while its tower truck, a $2.3 million piece of equipment, is only two years old.
During the work session, the city council indicated support for the expedited replacement plan.
“Fire trucks are not a want, but a need so obviously my support is there,” said Brooklyn Center City Council member Dan Jerzak.