E-One fire truck should work well in Sooke’s climate

Fire truck's performance will improve in coastal climate

Sooke's new E-One fire truck.

The fire department in Arizona may have thought they were “lemons” but the Sooke Fire Department thinks they will be perfect.

Sooke Fire Chief Steve Sorensen travelled to Maricopa, Arizona recently to check out a used E-One fire truck the district had agreed to purchase and he came back with a thumbs up on the rig.

Sorensen met with the head mechanic and the inspection came back clean. What was at issue for the Maricopa was that the fire engine, purchased in 2006 and valued at $432,352, didn’t function properly in the hot, sandy desert climate.  In fact, the Maricopa Fire District had purchased three of the fire engines for $1.5 million.

“It was the temperature and fine sand in the desert and the configuration of the air filters,” said Sorensen. “None of this is a surprise.”

What happened is that the sand clogged the air filters creating engine failure after 16,000 miles and again after 29,000 miles on the trucks. For Maricopa the fire engines were duds so they decided to fix then sell them and purchase ones that would work properly in their climate, even if it meant a loss for them.

An online newspaper article (by Tim Howsare, InMaricopa.com, Aug. 2, 2011) said neither Cummins (the engine’s manufacturer) or the dealer would accept responsibility and the easiest thing to do was to sell them to someone up north who doesn’t have heat/sand issues. The E-one trucks are also prone to overheating. A fire department in Alaska purchased the other two fire engines Maricopa had for sale, Sooke the third.

“It was a very good deal,” said Sorensen. “If we bought it today it would be over $500,000 new.”

A broker has been hired and they will provide information on crossing the border and the cost of transportation of the district’s new fire truck.

If the broker delivers it, they are responsible until it gets to Sooke, so this may be the option they choose rather than driving it up themselves.

“We have to see what is the best way,” said the chief.

The fire sale price for the truck is approx. $200,000 and Sorensen said they saved over $11,000. Every time the Canadian dollar went up they got the truck for $2,000-$3,000 cheaper.

The sale of the truck to the Sooke fire department was on an “as-is” with no written or implied warranty.

The fire truck, Engine 204, being replaced in Sooke will likely have a new life as a training vehicle at the Otter Point fire training centre or it could be donated to a Third World.

What happens to the old engine though is up to council, said Sorensen.

It is not known at this time when the new E-One will arrive in Sooke.