GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Grand Rapids firefighters will one day have new equipment to do their jobs.
Tuesday, city commissioners approved a plan to use over $4 million to buy new equipment.
The plan, which 24 Hour News 8 told you about Friday, has been plan praised by the city commission not only for the approach, but cooperation between the union and management that brought it to the table.
"I think this is an historic presentation," First Ward Commissioner Walt Gutowski said.
Commissioners approved nearly $4.4 million from the city's Transformation Fund for the purchase of four new pieces of fire apparatus and rebuild three other units to stabilize the aging fleet.
The Transformation Fund is generated through the 2010 income tax, which is set to expire in 2015.
The plan is to replace four more costly, heavy-duty fire engines with new rigs with new technology, but lighter chassis, smaller engines and smaller price tags in neighborhoods that see less fire action.
"When you see them going down the road, they don't look or sound any different," said Lt. Rich Clark, Vice President of Grand Rapids Firefighter Local 366, who helped develop the plan.
Three older, heavy-duty rigs in the city's 11-engine fleet would be rebuilt and upgraded instead of replaced at about a third of the cost.
Future savings could be realized by the way the city buys fire equipment. Instead of borrowing money, the remaining $2.3 million from the Transformation Fund would establish a Fire Apparatus Capitol Reserve Fund. The cash on hand will be used as seed money for an account that will eliminate the need to borrow money, and the interest that goes along with financing, for future fire apparatus purchases.
"We can keep the current though process and spend about $60 million over the next 30 years, or we can switch to a sustainable model, one that's going to save us over $23 million," said Rob Pease, a Grand Rapids firefighter and part of the agency's strategic planning team.
Missing from this latest plan are the smaller, pickup truck-based, multipurpose fire engines purchased with $600,000 from the Transformation Fund last year.
GRFD Chief Laura Knapp said the units are still part of GRFD's plan for the future.
"Right now, we're finishing the evaluation of the units. Once we complete that and complete our report, we'll make some decision of where we move from here," Knapp said.
Don't look for the new rigs out on the streets anytime soon. Bids have to go out and the trucks still have to be built. That could take a year or longer.
A professor who participated in the anti-apartheid movement said Nelson Mandela taught the importance of struggle and sacrifice.
Global civil rights icon Nelson Mandela, whose legacy is ending South African apartheid, has died.
The case of a man accused of the involuntary manslaughter of three children who died in a February apartment fire is ready to go to a jury.