Supply Chain Issues Force City to Order New Ladder Truck Three Years Early

By Jeremy Coumbes on October 26, 2022 at 11:21am

The current Jacksonville Fire Department's ladder platform truck is scheduled to be replaced in 2025. Supply chain issues have caused a 36 month lead time for new orders, so the City Council recently approved ordering a new unit this week.

Supply chain issues continue to wreak havoc for municipalities in trying to maintain first responder vehicle fleets. The Jacksonville City Council approved the waiver of the advertisement of bids and accepted a proposal to purchase a new aerial platform ladder truck for the Jacksonville Fire Department Monday night.

Fire Chief Doug Sill says, due to ongoing supply chain issues, the planned replacement of the ladder truck had to be drastically moved in order for the unit to be in service on time and as planned. “We’ve been approved to move forward with purchasing a new ladder platform truck for the department and the community. Given supply chain issues basically, the order will be placed this week so we can expect delivery in approximately thirty-six months.

The unit that we have right now is a twenty-year-old unit. Originally we had planned to replace it or push it forward for approval for replacement in 2025. but with the supply chain issues like I said previously, we’ve brought it to them now instead of then.”

Sills says the best part about the proposal is that if the department places the order today, no payment is due from the city until the new unit is delivered sometime in 2025, and will be purchased at the current year’s prices.

Pictured is an example of what the new Jacksonville Fire Department aerial ladder truck would look like.

The proposal allows the fire department to stay on the budget cycle and pay the purchase nearly three years from now while getting in line early. Sills told the council Monday night that the current unit, which is approximately 20 years old, has required increasing maintenance costs over the last several years.

He says some have questioned the need for the truck over years however if it were not for the Jacksonville Fire Department having the unit on hand at a moment’s notice, portions of the city would look very different than they do today.

That ladder unit, contrary to some public belief, has been a very important platform for the department. Numerous downtown fires on the square, the LaCrosse Lumber fire several years back. If it hadn’t been for that platform ladder truck we probably would have lost two city blocks down there.

And as far as that goes, the fire here at the municipal building, without that unit we might be in a different building today. So it’s a very important piece of equipment, it is a base for all of our operations. For technical rescue, we’ve used it on EMS calls to remove patients from second-floor windows and such, so it’s a very important piece of equipment to the community.”

Sills says the diverse makeup of the City of Jacksonville in both citizens and structure types makes the unit invaluable to have at the department’s disposal. “With the large manufacturing facilities, the large box stores that we have here in the community, we have a large population of people with disabilities in two-story and three-story homes like Heritage Health. You know, they’re immobile so the only way we can rescue them if there is an incident is with the ladder platform truck where we can make multiple entries and rescues simultaneously with the unit.

But I think it comes down to, you know, the citizens in Jacksonville have come to expect a level of confidence from the Jacksonville Fire Department, and that competent response involves a lot of training. But it also involves a lot of equipment to support our mission as well.”

Sills also updated the council on the former rescue/EMS truck that suffered a catastrophic issue this month. Sills says the truck’s diesel engine turbocharger suffered a failure with the intercooler that caused the engine to max out while it was traveling down South Main Street.

Sills praised the crew and driver in operation that day for keeping the vehicle under control and being able to slow it enough to get it into neutral and an eventual stop. A new rescue/EMS vehicle was precociously approved by the city council and will be delivered sometime early next year. The department has no plans to fix the current 2008 model at this time.