WASHINGTON — The Washington Fire Department has a new weapon in its firefighting arsenal.
A 2019 Pierce pumper fire engine has replaced a 1988 Pierce pumper that was well beyond its 20-year life expectancy and had a cracked pump that rendered it unusable.
The 1988 pumper was used for training after it went out of service last year and was later sold in an auction for $2,500.
The new pumper, with a 20- to 30-year life expectancy, can carry 1,250 gallons of water.
That's more than the standard 500 or 750 gallons, said Washington Fire Chief Roger Traver, because his department responds to fires in rural areas where there aren't easily accessible water sources.
The 1988 pumper had a 750-gallon capacity.
Pierce built Washington's new pumper quickly.
"It normally takes nine months to build a pumper. Pierce fast-tracked our pumper for us. We weren't expecting it to be done until August," Traver said after returning from the Pierce plant in Appleton, Wis., last week with the new pumper.
Traver and three other Fire Department personnel went to Appleton to inspect the new pumper and bring it home.
The new pumper's price tag is $730,000, with the Fire Department and the city of Washington sharing the cost.
The city's contract with the Fire Department mandates a 50/50 split of the cost, but because the new pumper came in under the Fire Department's $800,000 estimate, Traver said, the department will contribute $400,000 and save the city $70,000.
Traver said the Fire Department puts money aside each budget year in its vehicle replacement fund so it can make vehicle purchases without borrowing.
The new pumper will be on display at an industry show at the Peoria Civic Center this week before it's prepared for service, including the installation of radio equipment.
"We hope to have the new pumper ready to go before the end of July," Traver said.
When the new pumper is up and running, the Fire Department will have its usual roster of three pumpers, an aerial truck, a tanker and a brush truck at its disposal.
The new pumper is Engine 2, the same as the 1988 Pierce pumper.
The Fire Department's last firefighting vehicle purchase before buying the new pumper was a 2007 Pierce pumper that was ordered in 2006.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.