Piedmont Fire Department upgrades equipment with new truck purchases


By Stan Welch
The Piedmont Public Service Commission recently approved the purchase of a new fire engine; a move which will allow the department to also shift better equipment to Station Two. The department also bought a new pickup to serve as a chief’s vehicle. The current chief’s vehicle was handed off to assistant chief Craig Lawless.
The new pickup cost $35,500 on the state purchasing program; while the new engine, purchased under a similar federal purchasing program, cost $630,000. The engine, built by custom fire equipment builders, Sutphen, is custom built to the department’s speculations, and will be delivered in fourteen to sixteen months. It will be equipped just like the current engine, with extrication and rescue capabilities, as well as firefighting capability. The truck has a four man cab.
The current engine will be transferred to Station Two, upgrading that station’s capabilities as well. That engine was purchased in 2010 and cost $475,000 then. Chief Tracy Wallace explained that the vehicles have to be financed. “We simply don’t have those resources. When we pay off a piece of equipment, we buy a new piece. That’s part of our long term purchasing program.
Wallace added that the department also has two commercially built trucks. “We have learned that, despite the added expense, it’s better to buy custom built equipment. That way we know what we’re getting. We’re fortunate to have a group of commissioners who realize the importance of getting what you pay for, instead of just going for the low bid. Sutphen is a family owned builder that has been in business since 1890. Their reputation in the firefighting community is unquestioned.” An engine bought in 1991 is still in service.
Sutphen will build the basic truck in Ohio, where they are based. The truck will then be transported to the Alabama site where the equipment and other accoutrements will be installed. The Truck will then be delivered to the Piedmont Department.
“The numbers are big. There’s no doubt about that. But these engines will serve us for twenty five years or more. And they meet our needs specifically,” said Wallace. One of the older commercial trucks will be auctioned off later this year.
Wallace said the department had also removed the shell from the truck that they use to respond to medical calls and mounted it on a 2020 chassis, essentially getting a new truck in the process. “You have to have a plan and be creative to meet the changing needs of the community and the department,” said Wallace.