Yakima, WA - The Yakima City Council addressed the problem of the Yakima Fire Department's aging fire trucks at their meeting Tuesday night. The council held the first reading of a budget amendment that would allow them to move funds from the general budget to fund the purchase of two new fire trucks for the department.
Deputy Chief of the Yakima Fire Department Jeremy Rodriguez said two new fire engines would allow the department to retire their two oldest trucks and make two of their older frontline trucks backups.
Rodriguez said in general when a truck gets between 10 and 12-years-old they like to move those from frontline usage to be a backup truck.
"That preserves the life of that apparatus because we run 11 to 12 thousand calls a year right now," Rodriguez said. "We're running structure fires every 64 to 66 hours so we put a lot of usage into our apparatus."
After about 15 to 17 years they try to retire those trucks and replace them with new ones. Right now, the department has three backup trucks that are older than 15 years and many of their frontline trucks are between 11 to 14-years-old. This means they are well past their prime and starting to show signs. One of their trucks, Engine 91 just had a major mechanical issue that will take it out of service for about a month.
Rodriguez said if all goes well at the second budget reading, the council will approve the amendment so the department can buy the new trucks.
The second budget reading will be at the city council's next meeting on July 20. Rodriguez said based off the support the department received at Tuesday's meeting he believes the amendment will be passed.
"[We] Can't wait," Rodriguez said. "The guys are really excited for it."
If the city does approve the amendment, the soonest the department would see the new fire trucks would be next fall because it takes about 12 months to build one. After that, it would have to go through a testing period to make sure everything works.