Chicago Ridge trustees Tuesday accepted a recommendation from Fire Chief George Sheets and approved the purchase of a new fire apparatus.
The village board voted 5-1 to purchase a quintuple combination pumper, or quint, an apparatus that serves the dual purpose of an engine and ladder truck.
The truck will replace three older fire trucks thereby reducing costs and improve efficiencies, Sheets said.
Trustee Bruce Quintos cast the lone “no” vote, saying the fire department’s three lieutenants should appear at a board meeting to discuss the purchase.
“I think we should bring them in,” Quintos said. “Ask questions. Get it all out in the open.”
Sheets told Quintos that the lieutenants already have weighed in on the purchase.
“We’ve absolutely listened to the firefighters,” Sheets said. “Those who are doing the job absolutely have a say on what the vehicle is.”
He said the lieutenants were waiting to meet with Quintos, but the trustee never followed through and scheduled one.
A brief exchange between Sheets and Quintos led the fire chief say he took offense to Quintos’ implication that he was not fully informed about the purchase.
“There’s no reason for me to tell you anything other than the facts. I’m not sure where you’re going with this. I’m your fire chief, and I’m making this recommendation,” Sheets said.
The quint refers to the five functions that the apparatus provides: pump, water tank, fire hose, aerial device and ground ladders.
Purchase of apparatus means the fire department will remove from the fleet an aerial truck and two pumper trucks, one that is badly rusted and requires significant repair, Sheets said.
Those vehicles will be sold and the proceeds will be used to help pay for the quint, he said.
“It’s more efficient. It’s the way to go,” Sheets said.
The department currently spends about $60,000 to maintain 11 vehicles, a figure that is too high considering that the Oak Lawn Fire Department has a $50,000 maintenance budget for 18 vehicles, said Sheets, who also serves as fire chief in Oak Lawn.
The quint will cost $685,000, which will be offset by the $250,000 the village expects to receive for the sale of the three vehicles it is removing from the fleet. A $350,000 state loan could be used to pay for the bulk of the balance, Sheets said.