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Thursday, May 30, 2024

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Cape May, Stone Harbor Hear Woes of Purchasing a New Fire Truck

Fire Truck Stock Image
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Fire Truck Stock Image

By Vince Conti

CAPE MAY and STONE HARBOR – Both Cape May and Stone Harbor have similar circumstances in that the fire departments in each municipality are a combination of paid career firefighters supported by a volunteer fire company.  

Another similarity at the moment is that both fire departments are in the process of purchasing a new fire truck. 

In Stone Harbor, there has been some public pushback on the purchase of a new truck to replace one that is currently 15 years old. The council even received a letter from the Stone Harbor Property Owners Association (SHPOA) suggesting that the borough reconsider its policy of replacing fire trucks when they reach 15 years of service.  

The SHPOA correspondence pointed to several communities where it is customary to extend the life of such equipment longer than 15 years.  

The focus of the SHPOA letter to council was the borough’s long-term debt and the amount of the current budget that goes to debt service. The fire truck was just one example of a capital debt item that might be reconsidered.  

Currently, the borough is looking at a $1.65 million purchase for a new truck, which, with discounts and the resale of the existing truck, would put the potential debt for the equipment at about $1.3 million. 

In Cape May, the purchase of a new fire truck would replace one currently in use that is 28 years old. At its June 20 meeting, the city introduced a bond ordinance appropriating $1 million for the purchase of the new truck. 

On that same day in Stone Harbor, Fire Chief Roger Stanford defended his department’s replacement program, which was accepted as a policy plan by council in 1992.  

He pointed to the realities of the marketplace, which dictate a wait time of two to three years for a truck ordered now. He also underscored the impact inflation has had and continues to have on pricing.  

Stanford said that there was an expected price increase coming July 31 if the purchase has not been confirmed before then. 

The same information was part of the Cape May discussion. Supply chain delays, extended delivery schedules, and higher prices are part of the marketplace for this kind of equipment. 

The main difference highlighted in same-day discussions in the two communities appears to be the length of time a community is willing to continue to use current equipment. 

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