A shortage of fire vehicle chassis did not hamper efforts to replace three aging fire units by Eddy County Fire and Rescue, said Deputy Chief Jarod Zuniga.
He said Eddy County Fire and Rescue (ECFR) located three fire tanker frames from Freightliner last week to replace tankers that are around 20 years old. Each frame supports a tanker capable of hauling 3,000 gallons of water.
“Due to the shortage of chassis this allows us to have these apparatuses replaced sooner than the original planned four years with build time included,” read a portion of a memorandum written by ECFR Chief Joshua Mack to Eddy County’s Board of County Commissioners.
Zuniga said one of the old tankers manufactured in 2004 was not in spectacular condition.
“It’s a steel tank. We’ve already had it fixed once. The back end of the truck, some of the boxes, you can’t even open. They’ve been welded closed because of issues of the truck,” he said.
Zuniga said oil leaks caused problems for the other two older units as low oil pressure was noted if the trucks were idle for several days or nearly a month.
“A lot of those we started pulling out and they’re at the station. We’ve started doing a lot of moving around with some of the trucks to meet the needs. We try not to take too many tankers out of rotation before we put enough back in,” he said.
County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to use nearly $2 million in Eddy County Fire Excise Tax funds for the replacements for use in southern Eddy County.
He said Freightliner ordered the new chassis for the new tankers and ECFR could have them in early 2023.
Zuniga said the new tankers would equalize ECFR’s fire operations in the Carlsbad and Loving areas.
He said ECFR needed the new tankers for structure fires or fires in the oilfields.
“We need about four tankers for every engine that we take out because of the amount of water. We don’t have a lot of hydrants in a lot of areas, so we have to truck in our water,” he said.
Zuniga said the new tankers could meet ECFR’s needs in southern Eddy County for the next five years or more.
“These specifications are consistent with the recent tankers we’ve purchased in recent years. It will make the fleet more efficient in responses with the staff stations north and south,” said Eddy County Manager Allen Davis.
Commission agrees to backup power for ECFR staffed stations
As ECFR transitioned from 11 volunteer fire departments to three fire districts covering northern, southern and southwestern sectors of the County, Zuniga highlighted needs for emergency power at the Cottonwood Mill fire station in Artesia and the Fourth Street Station in Loving.
Zuniga said both stations would house paid ECFR staff in the northern and southern portions of Eddy County.
He said the Insurance Service Organization (ISO) required backup power at manned fire stations.
“When that Cottonwood station was built (in 2018) it was prepped for a generator. We didn’t spend money at the time for a generator,” Zuniga said.
ISO classifies communities based on performance in emergency communications, fire response, suppression and water supply, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) website.
Mack said money from the County’s Fire Excise Tax fund would pay for the Cottonwood Mill generator and funds from the State of New Mexico would pay for Loving’s generator.
“I’m very pleased to see with what’s going on with the fire department’s,” said District 3 Commissioner Fred Beard. “I think it’s great we’re able to do this.”