The City of Detroit has been investing heavily to upgrade its fire department's fleet with nearly $22 million over the past two fiscal years for new trucks and a $1.8-million allocation for maintenance.
For the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the city allocated $9 million for new vehicles, including 10 engines, two ladder trucks, six ambulances, two training academy vehicles, and eight arson vehicles. The Detroit Fire Department has been started rolling out the vehicles in the past week, said Craig Dougherty, second deputy fire commissioner.
This year's new vehicles will continue to bolster a fleet-replacement initiative that began with the 2014-2015 fiscal year as the city began to make it way out of bankruptcy. The city allocated $12.8 million to new fire vehicles that were placed into service a year ago to reduce response times that had reached 20 minutes. Today, the department maintains an average 10-minute response time.
"We would like to increase our coverage, continue to improve coverage," Dougherty said. "We have suffered some brown outs."
The fire department has been working to keep 26 of its 33 pumper engines on the road. Dougherty took delivery of three new engines in July, and plans to put a fourth into service in the next few days. He'll add six more by the end of the month. The engines use a Smeal body on a Spartan Motors chassis.
New ambulances and aerial trucks have also been added in recent months. Dougherty purchased 15 Ford F-350 ambulances with AEV bodies, and 21 Ford Explorers to act as "romeo" units and chief cars. Romeo units bring EMTs and equipment to the scene but don't transport patients.
The department has also accepted a donation from a group of local businesses of 23 ambulances using an International TerraStar chassis and Horton body. The ambulances have been running around the clock, and several are already nearing 100,000 miles after less than a year in service.
The additional $1.8 million for maintenance expenses will allow the department to outsource repairs to the department's aerial trucks because city technicians aren't certified to repair them to meet policies laid out by the National Fire Protection Association and UL standards.
A maintenance shop for the fire department employs 10 technicians that maintain a fleet of 33 engines, 27 ladder trucks, and 38 ambulances.