Monarch approves purchase of new ladder truck
By: Jim Erickson
A new ladder truck will join the fleet of fire and emergency vehicles at the Monarch Fire Protection District, replacing a 26-year-old vehicle now in service.
Purchase of the $656,495 vehicle received unanimous approval from the district’s board of directors at its Sept. 4 meeting. Delivery will be next month but the vehicle probably won’t go into service until several weeks later due to the equipment loading and training process for Monarch personnel assigned to the station where the truck is kept.
The ladder truck’s manufacturer is E-ONE, an Ocala, Fla., firm whose dealer serving this area is Banner Fire Equipment of Roxana, Ill.
Bids, opened at the Monarch Board’s Aug. 21 meeting, came from six different suppliers and covered nine vehicles.
Assistant Chief John Borgmann supervised the bidding-evaluation process and explained the many details involved in the process.
Underscoring the complexity of purchasing a sophisticated piece of firefighting equipment, Borgmann explained, was the paperwork and time required in the bidding process. The Monarch committee spent a number of months working on specifications, a period that included reviewing new technology available on today’s rigs, assessing the district’s needs and visiting other fire departments to get a first-hand look and input from colleagues on their recent purchases.
The proposals submitted by the six equipment suppliers were just as detailed, arriving in three-ring binders so thick that most were sent to the district in boxes.
After the bids were opened, the Monarch committee split up into teams to review the proposals and compare them with the district’s specifications. That task required many hours but was completed in time for the group to prepare a recommendation for the Board, Borgmann said.
The new ladder truck will have a number of features, including:
• a diesel engine of approximately 450 horsepower
• a 500-gallon tank that enables firefighters to put water on a blaze quickly while hoses are being attached to hydrants
• a 1,500-gallon-per-minute water pump
• a fire hose known as a “trash line” built into the front of truck for use on smaller fires
• a 75-foot aluminum ladder with a built-in waterway capable of delivering 1,000 gallons of water per minute
• a built-in, power-take-off generator designed to operate lights and other electrical equipment
• heavy-duty, hydraulic “outriggers” to stabilize the truck when the ladder is extended
• seating for six firefighters, although Monarch plans to remove two seats to make room for emergency medical supplies and other equipment
• an assortment of other ground ladders
• hundreds of feet of fire hose
• four-wheel steering, a feature Monarch crews have found necessary to safely maneuver such a large vehicle through often-narrow subdivision streets and cul-de-sacs
Key to the specifications is the 75-foot ladder and platform that can accommodate two or three firefighters, depending on the angle and height of the ladder and whether or not water is flowing. Electrical outlets and halogen lights on the platform provide illumination and power for other equipment. Sensors on the system sound an alarm if the ladder nears an overload state.
If you’re thinking a truck with this much equipment must weigh a lot, you’re right. Borgmann noted the unit with all its equipment and firefighters aboard will tip the scales at about 25 tons. “And there are trucks even bigger than that,” weighing up to 35 tons, he added.
“The big emphasis in firefighting equipment today is safety,” Borgmann said. “Safety definitely helps the firefighters, but the end result also is better and faster service to everyone in the district.”
Wading through all the bids was a huge challenge, Borgmann said, and not all the proposals met the specifications that Monarch viewed as important, including delivery time. Estimated costs ranged from just under $550,000 to more than $660,000.
The Banner bid was not the lowest, but Capt. Dave Schmitt, who headed the 12-member committee of Monarch firefighter/paramedics who prepared bidding specifications and evaluated the proposals received, said the E-ONE truck most closely matched the district’s needs and requirements.
Plans call for the new truck to be assigned to the Monarch station on Fernview Drive on the west edge of Creve Coeur.