Nevada City wins grant for rugged new fire engine |

Nevada City wins grant for rugged new fire engine

It’ll climb hills, move deftly on- and off-road, and pump water while moving in a drive-by against rival forest fires.

Nevada City will welcome a brawny new fire engine by this time next year, thanks to a $175,000 Department of Homeland Security grant it won last month. City Council members are expected to approve receiving the grant at their meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.

“It’s a much-needed boost to our staff,” Fire Chief Sam Goodspeed said of the grant, which is the biggest the department has ever won. “Our staff is very excited for the new piece of equipment.”

The replacement engine is a long time coming: A similar “Type III” engine the department uses for rugged terrain is 27 years old with 200,000 miles, plagued with mechanical problems and well beyond the 20-year retirement age for such vehicles.

Besides, the old engine’s exposed cab puts firefighters at the mercy of high temperatures, smoke and falling debris while driving; jump seats are equipped only with a lap belt.

“In the event of a vehicle accident, personnel are extremely vulnerable to major injuries or death,” the grant application reads.

The new one includes improved safety features and an air-conditioned cab for braving California’s scorching summer fire season. It’s also shorter and more agile on tough terrain.

While the department wrote the application asking for the full price of the engine – about $330,000 – it won just half of that because of the size of the department’s service area and the number of calls it receives, Goodspeed said.

Another $125,000 will come from the fire department’s “Cottage Account,” which gleans rent revenue from a Broad Street building it owns. The Nevada City Firefighter Association plans to foot the remainder (the total price is an estimate that will be confirmed when the department goes out to bid).

City firefighters also use their Type III engine to provide back-up for other agencies. In 2009, the department aided in the Yuba Fire and the Auburn Fire.

After approval from the council, the department can call for bids from engine manufacturers. Goodspeed expects delivery in the next nine to 12 months.

To contact Staff Writer Michelle Rindels, e-mail or call (530) 477-4247.

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