(June 14, 2013) The city approved a $628,135 allocation this week to take the next step in the Ocean City Fire Department’s equipment replacement plan, which will replace three aging pieces of equipment with a single, updated unit.
“This represents the third step in our efforts for fleet consolidation and consistency,” OCFD Chief Chris Larmore said. “The effort to combine an engine and tanker will improve service to both Ocean City and West Ocean City.”
The vehicle is a ‘Predator’ model fire engine/tanker, built by KME and distributed through Antietam Fire Apparatus. Not only will the new vehicle serve as a direct replacement for the department’s Engine 702, it will also take on the roles of Tanker 720 and Air & Light 722, both of which serve as support at large fires or accident scenes.
The replacement is part of a long-term plan, spanning through 2031, developed by the OCFD to manage its need for new, but expensive, fire apparatus. Under the plan, the OCFD – which oversees both the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company as well as the city’s paid fire corps – contributes $312,000 annual toward a vehicle fund. Private donations via the OCVFC account for $100,000 of it, and the city coffers add $212,000.
“I think it’s a great thing…that you have such a long-term plan,” said Council President Lloyd Martin.
Although its large value required council approval, the expenditure was already planned. The OCFD’s equipment replacement schedule calls for two purchases in this budget year, the first being the aerial truck which was purchased earlier and recently delivered to the department.
But, as has become par for the course with the OCFD, the discussion about the vehicles obliquely reference the apparently still adversarial stance taken by some within the city government towards Larmore’s management capacity.
“I just want to make sure we know that everything we buy in the future is going to fit in the fire house,” Councilwoman Margaret Pillas queried of Larmore, saying she had heard unfounded reports that the aerial rig would not, in fact, fit into the garage at the OCFD’s 15th Street headquarters.
Larmore said the rumors were without merit.
“The fire truck was specified to be the exact height as the truck it replaces,” Larmore said. “It was an inch too tall [when we first received it], but the equipment was not on that piece yet. A lot of hose was not installed.”
Fully fitted out, the trucks ride height was reduced enough to meet the height specification, which had been guaranteed by the manufacturer for the weight load.
“The manufacturer would be responsible if it didn’t meet the specified height,” Larmore said. The truck had been stored temporarily at Station 5, in West Ocean City, but “there was never any doubt that it would be going to headquarters,” he told the council.
Further, Larmore noted, he had arranged for the city’s Public Works Department to remove an inch-and-a-half of trim coverage from the overhead doors at the station, providing additional clearance for future uses. Station 4, the OCFD’s North Ocean City outpost which is slated to be rebuilt in the coming year, will feature taller vehicle bays.
“We have specified it for taller doors, because the equipment is getting taller as time goes on,” Larmore said.