Have you spotted a fire truck from a different jurisdiction in Manassas recently? Well, it's not because the firemen in Leesburg have a favorite lunch spot in Manassas.
The Manassas City Fire Department, which is a career and volunteer combination system, has been borrowing ladder trucks from neighboring jurisdictions for at least several months as their own unit from 1993 has been in and out of the repair shop, racking up $100,000 in maintenance expenses over the last three fiscal years, according to a report provided by the Manassas Volunteer Fire Company (MVFC).
The MVFC Fleet Maintenance Summary Report surfaced during a July 9 regularly scheduled council meeting where council carried a motion to budget and appropriate $40,000 from the Fire and Rescue Fund Balance for apparatus repair expenses.
Council Member Andrew Harrover had requested the maintenance summary report, which showed a total of $630,956.66 was spent on maintenance for 15 units in three years. Nearly half of that total—$311,719.76—went to the nearly 20-year-old Tower 501, the department's ladder truck, while a little over $91,000 was spent on another unit which was built in 1991.
"The maintenance costs are going up dramatically and [they are] becoming more expensive than the piece of equipment itself," said Council Member Marc Aveni who also serves as chairman for the City of Manassas Fire and Rescue Committee (FRC).
Aveni acknowledged the committee is not where they need to be as far as specifications for replacement equipment to purchase, but said he is optimistic the apparatus subcommittee will have an endorsement of specifications to purchase the first two pieces of replacement equipment—a ladder and pumper truck— at its July 19 meeting.
The city council's approved budget for Fiscal Year 2013 included a half-cent increase in the Fire Rescue Levy to fund the department's fleet plan totalling $383,400, but Council Member Harrover said a 60-day deadline set sometime in February to provide recomendations for new vehicles was not met by the committee and the city council will take action if they need to.
"We need need to move forward with buying new vehicles," Harrover said. "We are counting on that fund balance to be around for a while, and we are killing it."
Harrover said the council has a lot of things to consider regarding the fund balance including , among other things.
Council Member Steve J. Randolph agreed with his colleagues' comments. "I think if we keep it [the ladder truck] another year, it will probably be another $100,000. I think several of these trucks need to be replaced as soon as possible," Randoph said.
The Mayor said if the committee is unable to move forward with the initial steps to purchase new vehicles this month he is "ready, willing and able to do so."
"I think the mayor is right, if we can't get it done in that committee, the city is going to have to take action," Harrover said.