New tender truck approved for Hobart Fire Department
By Kevin Boneske
HOBART – A bid of $262,970 from CustomFIRE to purchase a new tender truck for the fire department was approved Tuesday, Feb. 2, by the village board.
The new truck, which is expected to be delivered in around nine months, will replace an existing 1991 tender with a 1,850-gallon tank.
Village Administrator Aaron Kramer said Hobart’s 2021 capital projects budget included $270,000 to replace the tender truck, while the bid the board approved wasn’t the lowest the village received.
Members of the Hobart Fire Department appeared before the board to discuss why they preferred the 2,200-gallon tender truck from CustomFIRE, which includes an axle rated at 31,000 pounds with a life expectancy of 30 to 35 years.
Fire Chief Jerry Lancelle said a committee of firefighters looked at what type of truck the village should get to replace the existing tender, which has “extreme corrosion issues” with the tank leaking.
“They spent quite a bit of time going around looking at our neighboring communities – some newer tenders in the area – seeing what was good, what was bad, obviously, and what should be improved,” he said.
Lancelle said the specifications included having a Freightliner chassis, and four were bids received, with two bids disqualified because of not meeting the overall specifications or being over budget.
Though CustomFIRE’s bid was almost $19,000 higher than the bid submitted by Custom Fab and Body, Captain Ryan Demars said the fire department purchased a different truck a few years ago from CustomFIRE and found it to be an excellent company.
“They seem to bend over backwards for us,” he said. “Any time we needed something, they were supremely helpful. They brought up different ideas that we may not have thought of that ended up working in our favor.”
Demars said CustomFIRE tends to use more stainless steel in building the body and framework supporting the body.
“If we’re looking at a truck that we want to last 30 to 35 years, that stainless steel is going to hold up a lot better than just the painted steel that most other manufacturers use,” he said. “I mean, you look at the underside of any of our current trucks, it’s just a rust pile that isn’t going to last, obviously. We feel that CustomFire, using the amount of stainless steel in those critical areas, is going to make the truck last a lot longer.”
Demars said CustomFIRE indicated it could deliver a new truck in nine to 10 months, while other companies bidding on the tender indicated a delivery time of 12 to 14 months.
“With the condition that our current tender is in now, both chassis and water tank corrosion issues, that truck leaks every day it sits in the station,” he said. “The amount of failures that we’ve had with valves, brake lines, everything else, it’s just getting to a point where keeping it in service is becoming more of a hassle and a safety concern.”
Lancelle said he agreed the additional money spent on the CustomFIRE bid was worth it because of the stainless steel.
He said the new tender will also be able to fit in the existing fire department garage.
Lancelle announced the fire department received an anonymous donation to upgrade its current light tower on a rescue vehicle with a new LED tower, which will provide more light and consume less power while extending the generator life.
Demars said the current light tower, which is approaching 20 years old, raises 10 to 12 feet with six light heads to illuminate a scene at night, compared to the new tower extending nearly 20 feet and being more maneuverable with LED lights using less power.
He said the LED tower costs about $35,000 to $40,000 brand new.