The Pierce Enforcer pumper fire engine. | PIERCE MANUFACTURING CO.

Riverside trustees voted 5-0 on Aug. 3 to officially purchase a new fire engine that it had approved in the 2023 budget last fall and which the fire department had ordered from the manufacturer at that time.

The roughly $725,000 price of the Pierce Enforcer pumper is about $27,000 or 4% more than the $698,000 the village had budgeted for the vehicle, but the increase is due to upgrades fire officials made to the vehicle during a final visit to the Pierce Manufacturing Co. factory in Appleton, Wisconsin, recently.

However, the price of the engine would have been far more expensive, Public Safety Director Matthew Buckley said, had he waited until now to order the engine. 

“If we ordered the same vehicle today, it would be over $900,000,” Buckley said, referring to what have become monthly increases in the cost for fire engines.

Last month, Brookfield’s village board approved the purchase of a new ambulance – ordering the same model it had back in 2017 for $250,000. Fire Chief James Adams estimated that with cost increases, the same ambulance in 2023 would cost $275,000. The actual cost was about $356,000. 

The Riverside Fire Department still does not expect to receive delivery of the new fire engine for seven or eight months.

“We’re hoping that it might be quicker now that everything has been approved,” Buckley said.

It routinely takes up to two years, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, for agencies to take possession of big-ticket items such as fire engines and ambulances.

In February 2022, the Riverside Village Board approved a purchase agreement for a new ambulance. According to Buckley, not only is the village still waiting for the vehicle, there’s still not a chassis available for it.

“We’re hoping maybe next May for that,” said Buckley.

The new pumper will replace the Riverside Fire Department’s 2003 E-One pumper, which is still a front-line engine with about 89,000 miles and nearly 10,000 engine hours on it. It’s based at Fire Station 2 on Pine Avenue.

Upgrades to the new pumper include it having a galvanized steel frame to prevent rust and increase its useful life; additional storage cabinets, including an exterior cabinet where firefighters can store contaminated gear after fighting a fire; additional outlets to accommodate the department’s move toward using battery-powered equipment versus gas-powered equipment; and additional emergency and scene lighting.

The fire engine, as well as the still-to-come ambulance, are being funded through federal funds the village received in 2021 and 2022 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.