For the first time, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary is buying fire trucks in bulk.
The board this week approved the purchase of seven pieces of apparatus at a total cost of $5.6 million. They include an engine and rescue vehicle for Big White; a tender for Beaverdell; an engine and tender for Christina Lake; an engine for Fruitvale; and a ladder truck for Trail.
The cost of the trucks will be borne by the individual service areas through a combination of reserves and short-term and long-term borrowing.
“The key thing is we locked these apparatus in in a very vulnerable supply chain,” says regional chief Dan Derby, who notes that six of the seven vehicles will be built by Fort Garry Fire Trucks Ltd. of Winnipeg at a total cost of $3.6 million and delivered in 2023.
The ladder truck contract was awarded to Safetek of Abbotsford for $2 million, although it will actually be constructed in the US and delivered in 2024. Derby says those are normal timelines for such units.
He explained the Fire Underwriters Survey dictates that front-line apparatus be replaced every 20 years to maintain insurance ratings. Orders are placed at least a year before the units are actually needed to ensure the ratings remain unchanged.
Derby says they began thinking last fall about working with fire departments across the region on a group purchase and put their requirements out for bid. The successful bidders were chosen Wednesday.
Derby says although they have done bulk purchasing before with things like turnout gear, this is the first time they have done it for their fleet.
“One of the huge savings was in staff time,” he says. “It typically takes hundreds of hours to work through the process of buying trucks. To do this as a group purchase, there’s a ton of time saved.”
He says other advantages include standardization of their fleet and not having to go through the exercise again until 2026.
“It’s good to have this done for a three to four year window and know we’ve got the apparatus coming our members need to provide valuable service to the community.”
Derby adds the board recognized the teamwork of the officers and firefighters who contributed to figuring out the truck specs.