During the October 25, 2022, Botetourt County Board of Supervisors Meeting, a fire and EMS apparatus replacement package was approved. During the meeting, Chief Jason Ferguson presented an overview of the apparatus replacement priorities for the fire and EMS system for the current and near-future fiscal years.
This apparatus package bundled together a total of three fire trucks. Two of those, are what is known as a Rescue Pumper. These multiple-purpose trucks suit many needs of emergency response, with one truck. These trucks will have seating for up to four firefighters, carry 750 gallons of water with a 1,500-gallon-per-minute capable pump, and have storage capacity for a significant assortment of tools and equipment. These trucks can handle an assortment of motor vehicle crashes, vehicle fires, and minor hazardous materials spills, and still provide the initial water and pump capacity necessary to fight a house fire. Often this type of truck only requires the support of additional water, personnel, or a specialty truck such as a ladder truck. These trucks maximize versatility and reduce the need for trucks with certain individualized capabilities.
The other truck included in the package is the replacement of a ladder truck. In 2018, a 1994, used ladder truck from East Chicago, Indiana was purchased by the Troutville Fire Department and placed into service as the first ladder truck to serve the southern portions of Botetourt County. This truck was identified as the fiscal year 2024 priority during the Fire & EMS Commission’s October 2021 capital planning session. The need for ladder trucks has been prominent throughout the southern portions of the county, including Blue Ridge, Read Mountain, Troutville, and Daleville where most of the commercial, industrial, and multi-story growth has been for decades.
In his report to the board, Chief Ferguson indicated that it would be his intent to ensure two ladder trucks were secured and available to service the high-occupancy, high-risk facilities known as target hazards throughout Botetourt County. Part of this plan entails selling an early 2000’s model ladder that currently serves the Buchanan community and replacing it with a Rescue Pumper. The main justification for this change, is to get the right apparatus in the right station.
Traditionally, ordering a fire apparatus has approximately a one-year lead time for production, while ambulances generally could be produced within nine months. Due to current market conditions and supply chain shortages, fire apparatus have a production lead time of over two and a half years, with ambulances taking just over three years to produce from the time of contract. These extreme lead times, coupled with an impending 6.5% increase in apparatus pricing, led to a proposal that places Botetourt County’s fire and EMS system in a better position for sustainable apparatus replacement over the next several years.
Also included in the package is the purchase of two new ambulances to maintain the existing fleet of emergency medical transport units. The production lead time on the ambulances is right three years. Normally, Botetourt County replaces up to two ambulances on an annual basis.
The total cost of the package is $4.5 million; of which almost $1 million of existing funds has been identified to cover a portion of the costs. Additionally, annual state grant funds to support fire department operations, EMS cost recovery revenues, and pending sale of retired apparatus will all accumulate over the next two years to afford for this package with the least impact possible on local general funds. A major factor in the timing of this proposal was the looming 6.5% increase that would have driven the cost of the three fire apparatus up. By ordering now, the county will see substantial savings that will save over $350,000 dollars in tax-payer funds.
The new vehicles are expected to be put in service by late 2025/early 2026.