EFD snaps up a rolling bargain

<p>Illuminating the nighttime surroundings, a bank of six halogen lights mounted on a tower that can extend 30 feet shows off the truck to which this equipment is attached – a lightly used 1995 Volvo rescue vehicle, the Enterprise Fire Department's latest acquisition.</p>

Enterprise’s fire department may be muddling along with a 39-year-old engine that’s rapidly fading and a 1977 water tender that could spring a new leak any day, but not all the equipment news here is bad.

Several weeks ago, the department scored a major upgrade for its fleet: a 1995 Volvo rescue vehicle with only around 20,000 miles on it. Obtained with the help of the Oregon Department of Forestry and through the Federal Excess Property Program (FEPP), the vehicle’s total cost to the city of Enterprise was a jaw-dropping $2,100, approximately, part of that amount covering the cost of transporting the vehicle from San Joaquin, Calif., where it had formerly belonged to the Department of Defense. Enterprise Fire Chief Paul Karvoski drove the vehicle up from California in January.

Karvoski said that after the Department of Defense designated the vehicle as excess property, the agency initially offered it to other government agencies in Washington state. There were no takers, so it was offered next in Oregon. Karvoski said he was fortunate enough to spot it quickly in the email that went out from the Oregon Department of Forestry listing FEPP equipment available.

He credits Matt Howard, wildland fire supervisor for the Wallowa Unit of the Oregon Department of Forestry, with a major assist.

“Matt Howard did a tremendous job of getting me the information and that’s how we got it so quickly,” Karvoski said. “If I would have waited ten more minutes, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the truck.”

Despite its dirt-cheap price to Enterprise, the vehicle is said to be worth approximately $160,000.

In the Enterprise fleet, it replaces a 1983 step van, formerly a Snap-On Tools sales vehicle, converted to serve as a rescue vehicle.

The Volvo brings major advantages over the van. It has a diesel engine while the van runs on gas. The Volvo offers greater storage, comes with two 100-foot electrical reels and two 100-foot air reels, and, arguably its most impressive built-in feature, a light tower on top that can extend 30 feet upward. The tower holds six high-illumination halogen lights. Until now, Enterprise firefighters have been storing light stands in the van and setting them up manually at nighttime scenes where the illumination is needed.

The newer vehicle will also be carrying one of the two vehicle extrication tools the department owns.

“This thing is equipped for fire service,” Karvoski said of the new arrival.

Meanwhile, the department continues to hope for a $350,000 federal FIRE grant award this year that would pay for a new engine. That purchase would allow the department to shuffle its current first-out engine, a 1995 model, to the fleet’s second-out position, and to finally retire the current second-out unit, a 1974 that Karvoski recently said was “on its last leg.”

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