The Price of Insurance

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The wind shifted, causing Styrofoam panels and wood pallets to burn, along with other flammable materials, and sending the materials flowing toward Rescue Engine 33 and an engine from West Lanam Hills. Both apparatus were destroyed. Luckily, no one was seriously injured. While I won’t discuss the fireground operations, I will tell you the lesson learned about carrying the right amount of insurance for replacement.

Updated Insurance

According to Ricky Riley, captain and former chief from Kentland, “We originally purchased the Pierce Dash engine in 2000 for $380,000. Obviously, we had the rig insured since we purchased it, but we kept the same policy through the years, not thinking that it would be totally destroyed. We always thought that if we kept up with the maintenance it would never be a problem.”

However, the department learned the hard way. In not keeping up with the total replacement cost, it had dug itself into a hole. Pierce adds three percent per year for production costs on the value of a vehicle, so a vehicle purchased 10 years ago increases in value to replace it at today’s price. “We now insured the new rig at total replacement cost and up the additional insurance each year to keep up with the value,” Riley says.

“We plan to do this with our other engine and tower so this doesn’t happen to us again in the future. The insurance company on this loss paid us $360,000. The new rescue engine ran us more than $700,000. We were also lucky to obtain a low-interest loan from the Maryland State Firefighters Association to help with the purchase of the new apparatus.”

This is probably an area overlooked by many fire departments across the country, and I can’t emphasize this enough: Check your insurance coverage, and make changes to protect your assets in the event of a loss.

Apparatus Specs

“We immediately got a truck committee together, and in several weeks we were able to write up specs and send them out for competitive bidding,” Riley says. “A total of five bidders responded to our specs. We ultimately chose Pierce for their responsiveness and price. They also built our last rescue engine, so we were familiar with their product and operations.”

A lot of changes were made for the new engine because members were starting with a clean sheet of paper. They changed to stainless steel from aluminum because they felt that it would last longer, especially in harsh winters. The change from rollup compartment doors to the standard lap doors was made. Personnel were beginning to have some problems with rollup doors so they decided to go back to the standard operation of the older style doors. A lower hosebed was specified for enhancement of engine company operations for the firefighters stretching and repacking hoselines.

A shortened wheelbase was designed for better maneuverability. “The new vehicle turns a lot better than our older vehicle, especially on tighter streets in our response district,” Riley says. “We had a permanently mounted winch on the older rig. On the new vehicle, we carry a portable winch, which is better for our operations.” Also included was a 19-inch extended front bumper and a booster line that wasn’t included on the older vehicle. For added safety on the fireground and for motor vehicle accidents, there are 12 LED Whelen scene lights and a generator that runs the department’s Holmatro rescue tools and all Core reels.

Included in the contract was to have a third party mount all tools and equipment, maximizing compartment space and saving members time by not having to do the work themselves.

“The experience with Pierce and their local dealer, Atlantic Emergency Solutions, was greatly positive,” Riley says. “They listened to our needs and expedited the delivery as best they could, knowing our problem. Service after the sale was also positive.”

Lesson Learned

The Kentland Fire Department learned an important lesson with this apparatus purchase: Keep up with insurance costs for the adequate current replacement cost of a modern-day apparatus. It is not something that we don’t think about on a daily or yearly basis, but it becomes a problem down the road if a loss does occur. With the high cost of apparatus these days, it becomes a concern. You also must take into account not only the cost of the apparatus but the value of all the equipment carried as well.

It is important to be proactive and think outside the box when it comes to not only apparatus replacement but also adequate maintenance of apparatus. With the cost of apparatus going up each year and budget dollars being cut, it becomes a major issue for many fire departments around the country. Investigate and see where your department stands if you lose a vehicle because of a fire or a major accident.

Kentland Rescue Engine 33 Specs

  • Chassis: Arrow XT™.
  • Body: Rescue pumper.
  • Overall height: Nine feet, eight inches.
  • Engine: Detroit Diesel DD13.
  • Horsepower: 500 hp.
  • Pump: Waterous midship 1,250 gpm.
  • Tank size: 500 gallons.
  • Generator: Harrison hydraulic 20-kW.
  • Additional: Whelen LED lighting package.

Kentland Fire Department

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September 2016
Volume 11, Issue 9
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