A fire truck that served for more than 30 years will be replaced by a new pumper in Seaside Park, with the borough council having voted unanimously Thursday night to approve the acquisition of a new vehicle from a Michigan-based manufacturer.
The council approved a lease-purchase plan to buy the truck for $620,000 from HME Inc. The acquisition is structured as a lease-purchase, which is traditional in the industry, and will be financed over 10 years, at which point it will be fully owned by the borough’s fire department.
Earlier this fall, officials from the Seaside Park Volunteer Fire Company recommended the purchase of the HME Silverfox pumper truck, saying it represented the best mix of price, capability and availability. HME specializes in selling “off the shelf” fire trucks that can be customized with a number of options rather than a more complicated bespoke ordering process that can take an extended amount of time, often measured in years, to come to fruition.
Officials have said Seaside Park’s department does not require a large number of modifications or customization beyond some work to help prevent wear and rust in the salt-air environment.
When the borough began discussing the need for a new fire truck in the pre-pandemic period, the price was estimated to be about $500,000. That rose significantly, but was eventually pared down to the $620,000 figure that was authorized. The fire company has conducted its own fundraising efforts to outfit the truck with equipment, saving taxpayers additional tens of thousands of dollars.
Seaside Park currently operates two pumper trucks and one ladder truck. The pumper truck set to be replaced by the new rig is a 1993 Pierce Lance 1500/500, which previously served Toms River Fire Company No. 1 before having been acquired by Seaside Park after Superstorm Sandy. The company’s other pumper truck is a 2006 Seagrave Concorde 1750/1000 which was delivered new in 2009.
The all-volunteer department also operates one ladder truck, a 1992 Grumman/Telesquirt 1500-500 that was previously in service with the East Dover fire company in Toms River. That truck will need to be replaced at some point in the coming years, however it is still working properly and posing few issues, according to fire officials.
During a presentation to the council in September, Fire Chief Michael Tumolo explained how the new truck will fit into the company’s operations.
“We’re going to replace the oldest truck that we got from Toms River, and our truck we got in 2009 will go down the line,” Tumolo said, explaining that after the new truck is acquired, the older truck will deploy first to calls, followed by the new truck with the second crew. This practice saves mileage and wear and tear on the new truck, since the 2009 model will be responding more often to routine calls.
The truck is expected to be delivered sometime in 2023 – a remarkable turn-around period compared with much of what officials learned during their search. In some cases, Tumolo said, manufacturers would not even discuss the price of a new truck for two years after a letter of intent was signed. Seaside Park ultimately authorized a letter of intent to buy the HME truck last month, and on Thursday night codified the financial agreement to finalize the purchase.
As for the fate of the older truck due – there is a chance retirement might not be in its immediate.
“They can’t use this truck anywhere in the United States,” said Tumolo, since safety regulations and OSHA administrative regulations now require more modern equipment.
The truck, however, will likely still have some life left overseas. Worth just a few thousand dollars on the trade market, the 30-year-old pumper truck may find its way to eastern Europe or Africa, where its life-saving mission will live on in a much different setting.