The City of Port Alberni will be going more than $200,000 over budget to purchase a replacement fire engine for the Port Alberni Fire Department.
The city put out a request for proposals for the replacement of Fire Engine 1 earlier this year and received four responses. “All four of them were a fair amount more than what we had previously budgeted for in the five-year financial plan,” said Fire Chief Mike Owens during a meeting of city council on Monday, Aug. 10.
The winning bid was Fort Garry Fire Trucks Ltd., at a cost of $890,645.
“We engaged with Fort Garry Fire Trucks…and aimed to try to reduce costs as much as we could,” said Owens. “Even with that said, it is $215,347.15 more than what was budgeted.”
The extra funding will come out of the city’s equipment replacement reserve fund (ERRF), with plans to repay it over the next five years.
Owens said some of the unexpected increase could be attributed to the U.S.-Canadian dollar exchange rate and some of the new U.S. tariffs. Although Fort Garry Fire Trucks Ltd. is a Canadian company, around 70 percent of the truck is built in the United States.
The new truck will have a battery system that kicks on when the truck is idling, reducing fuel consumption and lowering emissions. The vehicle will also include airbags, additional rollover protection, backup cameras and increased storage. The current engine is 30 years old and nearing the end of its useful life.
Council expressed disappointment about the “sticker shock” of the new engine, but ultimately approved the purchase.
“I am not willing to compromise the safety of our firefighters or our public because we’re trying to pinch pennies on a piece of apparatus,” said Councillor Ron Paulson.
“This is a large overage to what our budget was,” added Mayor Sharie Minions. “Although I struggle very much with this purchase, I will support it because I have confidence that our fire department and Chief Owens have done their due diligence.”