New (used) fire truck is a great bargain

THEY HAD TO GO about 900 miles to find it, but the Elkhart Lake Fire Department got a great deal on a new ladder truck.

The department’s current ladder truck is a third of a century old and in dire need of replacement. But even more dire was the prospective cost of a new truck — $800,000 to $1 million.

That cost would be a strain to the budget and finances of the village and the town of Rhine, which share the costs and services of the fire department.

So department members began a search for a suitable used truck and found what they were looking for in Bryn Mawr, Pa.

The fire company in the tony Philadelphia suburb is selling its 2009 Rosenbauer 100-foot ladder truck, which has only 22,000 miles on it.

Because Bryn Mawr has a policy of replacing its fire trucks every seven years – and has the financial means to do so – the truck is available.

Fire Chief Pat Zorn and several department members made the trip to eastern Pennsylvania shortly before Labor Day to get a first-hand look at the truck and came away impressed.

They made a well-prepared presentation on the truck to a joint meeting of the Elkhart Lake Village Board and the Rhine Town Board seeking approval to buy the truck.

The presentation and the truck impressed members of both boards sufficiently that they both quickly approved the purchase.

The used truck will cost $450,000 or so – roughly half of what a new truck will cost. Even with adjustments and changes the department would like to see, the final cost of the truck will likely come to less than half a million dollars, still well below the cost of a new truck.

For half the cost, the town and the village will get a truck that should last at least 25 more years, Zorn estimated – a far lower cost per year of service than what a brand-new truck would represent.

Zorn and his department are to be commended for their dedication and due diligence in finding the communities they serve such a great bargain.

As Zorn told the Elkhart Lake Village Board before they voted to approve the purchase, he and the members of the department are all taxpayers, so the cost of replacing the ladder truck was as important to them as the necessity to secure the proper equipment to provide fire protection for the communities they serve.

To the benefit of all involved, they managed to accomplish both goals successfully with the new used truck which should go into service sometime next spring.

That gives both the village and the town sufficient time to determine how to finance the cost – a determination which should be a little bit easier to bear when the truck comes at half the expected cost.

As Elkhart Lake Village President Alan Rudnick put it before his board approved the purchase, “We’re getting the truck we need at a fair price.”

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