The two trucks replace two vehicles taken out of commission due to safety and structural concerns in September.
“Which is something I didn’t want to have happen this year,” Chief John Soisson said. “The two of them (Lynch and Stang) went to work on finding trucks.
“It was the same type of effort I got there,” the chief added, referring to the pair’s work on the new station.
“They drove to Chicago to look at a truck and (it) ended up not being anything like we needed. They went to Tennesse twice,” Soisson said.
Stang and Lynch did an exhaustive online research about fire trucks that were available.
“I don’t think there was a used truck this side of the Mississippi (River) that they didn’t know about,” Soisson said.
Norwalk ultimately purchased a 2004 Pierce Saber. The $84,500 price tag included many new items, including the front tires, light package, seats and front brakes.
“It was out of Tennessee. It was originally from Florida, but it was at a broker in Tennessee,” Soisson said.
The new truck, a 2017 Spartan engine, which cost the city of Norwalk $436,027, arrived at the station in late January. Representatives from Fire Safety Services, which is based out of Huntsville, delivered it.
“We bought them to be in the new station,” Soisson said. “They all get in the building. They can’t get into certain doors.”
The chief shared his thoughts on continuing to upgrade the fleet.
“Aaron is in charge of our equipment. He had come to me early on when I was chief with a long-term plan on trucks that he thought would be more efficient and consistent (than what had been happening) and I think he was spot on,” Soisson said. “What we are trying to do is line all of our engines up, so they are fundamentally the same, so we don’t have one that specializes in townships.”
When it comes to Norwalk buying new trucks in the future, safety-service director Dan Wendt has requested the department establish a long-term capital plan.
Soisson envisions a purchase replacement plan in which the city would buy new engines eight to 10 years apart.
“You are supposed to keep them for 20 (years); we’ve been getting ours closer to 30, but we want to have a replacement plan, so we don’t get into a situtation where you lose two engines because of structural problems and you’re down to one. And thank goodness for the people (who) helped,” said Soisson, referring to trucks on loan from EHOVE Career Center and the city of Ashland.
“We’ll have to have a revenue stream show up somewhere so (we) can do it because right now there’s no funding mechanism for trucks. To do it on replacement levies is not a sensible way to do things,” the chief added. “Hopefully it works in the long term.”
Soisson said he heard about an Ohio fire department in a similar situation as Norwalk and purchased two engines for about $1 million.
While some Norwalk residents may complain about the amount of money spent on the two trucks, the chief said “it’s not in the fire truck world.”
“Actually, we got those two engines for less than what most people pay for one,” he added. “You’re talking $530,000 for two trucks.”