CORRECTIONS: Several points in the original article were misleading or incorrect and have been removed or rewritten. Our apologies for the errors.
Milton's Fire Department wants to spend $1.2 million for a
new aerial truck with a bigger reach than the current vehicle, and they have
the money to buy it.
Deputy Fire Chief Mark Stephens told Milton City Council that the current aerial truck with a 75-foot ladder was bought following specifications from Sandy Springs. The existing truck is much heavier than the proposed Sutphen aerial truck. That extra weight has been attributed to a higher maintenance cost.
Once the five-year warranty ran out on the Pierce aerial truck that was bought in 2007, repair costs became expensive, Stephens said. Three times pins have sheared, leaving the truck with a broken axle each time. The truck's radiator had to be replaced three times.
The truck has been out of service 47 times.
The aerial truck is the busiest truck in Milton's fleet, answering 1,000 more calls than any other truck. Every fire call gets an aerial truck in response. With Milton's truck located in Alpharetta's Fire Station 1 and the two cities' mutual aid agreement, it's bound to be called out more.
The truck gets lower gas mileage than the proposed replacement truck. Even tire replacement should be required less often with the new truck.
The Sutphen SL100 has a mid-mount ladder, which Stephens said will allow even more flexibility for firefighters. Between the mid-mount ladder and the additional 25 feet of ladder, firefighters will be able to be effective with some of the large, non-square floor plan homes in the city. The 75-foot aerial truck wasn't effective in the roof fire at King's Ridge Christian School, and Milton had to call in Alpharetta's 100-foot aerial to battle the fire.
But even with the purchase of a new aerial truck, the fire department still plans to keep the existing truck in service as a reserve truck. That will come in handy whenever the new truck has to undergo routine service. It's one of the needs identified that has been holding the city's ISO rating down. A better ISO rating can mean lower insurance costs for city property owners.
City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said the Fire Department has the funding in its budget for the truck. It's options are to pay in full when a contract for the truck is fulfilled, or to use a lease-purchase option.