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Revved up about new Engine

Fire Engine No. 3 is the newest addition to the Bemidji Fire Department's fleet. Pictured are Mike Mischke, Chad Hokuf, Russ Hiltz with the Bemidji Rural Fire Association, Bemidji Fire Chief Dave Hoefer and Mike Yavarow. (Crystal Dey | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- The newest member of the Bemidji Fire Department rolled into the barn Tuesday afternoon -- a shiny new 2014 Pierce Saber fire engine.

Engine No. 3 traveled from Bradenton, Fla., where it was built, to Pierce headquarters in Appleton, Wis. The engine was bought from a distributor in Apple Valley, Minn.

"It's as close to local as you can get," said Russ Hiltz, Chairman of the Bemidji Rural Fire Association.

The Bemidji Fire Department and Bemidji Rural Fire Association share equipment to service three cities and 15 townships. The association holds the title for Engine 3. When the engine arrived in Bemidji, it had 1,998 miles logged.

"Personally, I like that it has some miles on it, it's broke in," said Bemidji Fire Chief Dave Hoefer.

The entire project cost for Engine No. 3 is $450,000. The truck itself cost $381,828 with a $6,154 savings from a pre-pay discount that was possible because of funds available in the department's capital improvement plan. Hoefer said the department will add approximately $70,000 in equipment to the engine.

"Pierce provided the best value for the dollar in a competitive bid process," Hoefer said. "Vigorous acceptance testing wrapped up (Wednesday)."

Hoefer said fire engines typically are scheduled for replacement every 24 years in the capital improvement plan. Trucks serve 16 years on the front line when newer and are retired to reserve status for the remainder of their term.

Engine No. 3 will see its first action most likely in May. In the meantime, the rig will be outfitted with equipment and BFD firefighters will be trained on the new engine. The 2014 model has a similar chassis, water pump, layout and storage to the engine it replaced. The truck has a 1,000 gallon water tank and onboard foam system.

Engine No. 3 replaces Engine No. 9, a 1979 model that was the oldest in BFD's fleet. Engine No. 9 was sold to a private party for $3,000 in an online auction. The next truck to be replaced is a 1980 water tender, which is up for renewal in six years.

Engine No. 3 has added safety features such as an enclosed pump panel, safety chevrons and rear cab headsets, officials said. The enclosed panel protects gauges and controls from the weather. Fluorescent yellow safety chevrons zig-zag across the back of the truck for increased visibility. The chevrons have been recently required to meet National Fire Protection Association standards.

Engine No. 3 has a six-person capacity and and the headsets allow for better communication for all passengers. The headsets also protect firefighters' hearing.

"The equipment this replaced was beyond its service life. Engine No. 9 was tired," Hoefer said. "A 34-year-old fire engine is not able to serve Bemidji's needs."

The BFD also welcomed three new firefighters to the team: Loren Howard of Cass Lake, Tanner Petterson of Clearbrook and Nick Dripps of Mantorville, Minn.

Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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