Vancouver Fire Department adds twin engines

New, ‘utilitarian’ rigs will replace pair of 19-year-old models

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

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photoLooking like a console from “Star Trek’s” Starship Enterprise, colorful dials and gauges provide information to firefighters in Engine One. Another new engine was sent to Station 2, at 400 E. 37th St.

(/The Columbian)

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If the sirens and cherry red paint job weren’t enough to catch your attention, the Vancouver Fire Department’s two newest engines have one more thing that might do the trick -- super bright LED lights.

The latest additions to the city’s fleet of firefighting vehicles have arrived at the Downtown and Westside stations, replacing two battle-hardened 19-year-old engines that had both been overhauled once.

“Anytime you get a new rig, you’re pleased, you’re tickled, you’re excited about it,” VFD Deputy Chief Kevin Griffee said this week.

But although they’re shiny and new, there’s not a lot of extras on these engines, which cost $463,000 each. The LED lights -- which last a long time, limiting trips to the shop for replacement bulbs, and are ultra-bright -- are about the only noticeably different feature the new models boast.

“Our rigs are pretty utilitarian,” Griffee explained, adding they’re updated to meet the latest fire protection and emissions standards.

Built by Pierce Manufacturing in Appleton, Wis., the engines are first on the scene, with a 500 gallon tank and a pump capable of blasting out 1,250 gallons of water a minute to fight blazes immediately until it’s hooked up to a hydrant or a water tender arrives on scene.

On front lines for 8 years

Vancouver’s new engines have a lifespan of eight years on the front line before they’re shifted to reserve status, which then bumps the oldest engines out of the fleet, Equipment Services Superintendent Barb Basnett said. Those reserve engines step up when primary vehicles are in the shop, and also are brought into service during major fires.

The city council on Monday allowed three older engines to be declared as surplus, and all three will be sold for $50,000 to Royal City, a small town in Grant County. Each has well over 250,000 miles on the road. The sale will also save the city $15,000 annually in operating costs, Basnett said.

“These older engines still function well for a small agency that gets far fewer calls; and having three similar engines will give that agency uniformity and parts compatibility,” she wrote in an email.

Just one engine at Station 1 downtown runs about 1,800 calls a year, Griffee said.

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542; http://www.twitter.com/col_cityhall;andrea.damewood@columbian.com.