The village of Brookfield will be able to retire its two oldest fire engines and replace them with a single vehicle combining a pumper and ladder truck after winning an $800,000 grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistant to Firefighters Program.
Fire Chief Jim Adams, who wrote the grant request, said the new “quint,” as the vehicle is called, is expected to cost $1.1 million to $1.2 million, easily the single most expensive vehicle the village has ever had to purchase.
A committee of firefighters is working now to finalize exactly how the village will configure the new rig, and Adams said the hope is to secure pricing through a municipal purchasing cooperative in order to shortcut the competitive bidding for the purchase.
Still, it will be months before the new engine will go into service.
“Usually 10 months is the turnaround,” Adams said. “I’d love to have it in service one year from today.”
Obtaining a grant of that size will allow the village to replace a pumper truck that is 30 years old and the fire department’s ladder truck, which is 20 years old. The old pumper is a reserve engine, but it still sees service, said Adams. As recently as last week, the 1991 pumper was in service as the front line engine at Fire Station 2, filling in for the main engine, which was in the shop for service.
“To say that I’m proud of Jim is an understatement,” said Brookfield Village Manager Timothy Wiberg. “I don’t know what timing is on getting that money, but we will be including … it as part of the  budget workshop, and I certainly hope the board will be supportive of leveraging [the village’s share of the cost].”
Adams said buying a quint made the most sense for Brookfield in terms of using manpower most efficiently. The existing ladder truck is just that, said Adams. It’s a rolling toolbox topped with a 100-foot extension ladder.
“With the minimal manpower we have, running a truck like that doesn’t make sense,” Adams said.
Combining the pumper and ladder truck into one vehicle, said Adams, “You have four guys in one rig working it, which is a more efficient use of manpower.”
Although the engine will be a large apparatus – about 12-feet high – it will have no trouble fitting into a bay at the main fire station on Shields Avenue, Adams said.
The grant for the new vehicle was just one of two FEMA grants the fire department was awarded. Brookfield also has been given a little more than $57,000 through the federal agency’s Fire Safety and Prevention Grant Program.
That money will go toward the purchase of 11 mobile data terminals, laptop computers that will be installed in each of the department’s response vehicles. The computers will allow firefighters the ability to get instant information on buildings – from potential hazards to floor plans – they are responding to.
The computers will also be linked to the village’s GIS system, showing where fire hydrants are located (good when they may be covered by snow) and will allow firefighters to input and access fire inspection reports in the field.
“Information we don’t know we’ll have right at our fingertips now,” Adams said. “It’s a huge leap in technology here, because we’ve never had that in our vehicles.”