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Turlocks problem-plagued fire engine to be replaced
fire engine
The maintenance cost for Engine 32 is 42 percent higher than the rest of the Turlock fleet, which are all older than Engine 32. - photo by Photo Contributed

A new fire engine is slated to roll into Turlock and it will be replacing one that has left fire fighters stranded out on calls and has cumulatively spent nearly a year out of service.

The Turlock City Council voted 5-0 to purchase a new Type 1 Fire Engine from manufacturer Rosenbauer Minnesota LLC, without compliance to the formal bid procedure for an amount not to exceed $500,157 and to sell Engine 32 to Rosenbauer for $125,000.

The transaction comes as a relief for the Turlock Fire Department, which has had problems with Engine 32 since purchasing it in 2008.

“It hasn’t met its life cycle, but we are at the end with this engine,” said Turlock Fire Capt. Mike Harcksen, who along with Capt. David Mallory, presented the fire engine proposal to the City Council on May 10.

Engine 32 is a 2008 Pierce Arrow XT that when constructed was touted as being a cleaner engine because it was one of the first fire engine models to meet the compliance standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency for emission systems. But since that time the technology has surpassed the engine and it has been plagued by a series of failures.

“It’s an obsolete system… that uses an excessive amount of diesel,” Harcksen said.      

In the eight years that the City of Turlock has owned Engine 32 it has logged 357 days out of service. The longest period was 69 days recorded in 2015, but for the most part it has been out of service intermittently, which Harcksen explained has caused more problems for the fire department.

“The times when it is in service are scattered so sporadically and it has left us stranded on the road several times,” Harcksen said.

Typically, the fire department likes to put each fire engine for service and maintenance twice a year, but because Engine 32 has needed so many repairs the department hasn’t been able to put the other engines in for routine maintenance because the engines are needed out in the field. The engine has been the primary source of the troubles, but the fire engine also is now experiencing structural body cracking and extensive repairs to the front suspension. All the warranties on the fire engine have expired, including an extended one offered by the manufacturer, so the fire department has been solely responsible for the repair costs since 2015. To date, the fire department has spent $129,265 on repairs and service to Engine 32, which is in addition to the $49,866 that was covered under the warranties.

“It should have been painted yellow because it is such a lemon,” said Turlock City Councilman Steven Nascimento.

The maintenance cost for Engine 32 is 42 percent higher than the rest of the Turlock fleet, which are all older than Engine 32.

The new fire engine will be constructed alongside a previously approved unit that will be replacing Engine 31 and could be in Turlock as early as September. By using the same manufacturer, the department will be given a multi-unit discount of $39,754.