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Peoria City Council approves purchase of new $3.2M fire apparatus

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The Peoria City Council approved two measures to bolster the city’s fire department at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.

Interim Fire Chief Shawn Sollberger said wait times for a new fire apparatus is usually between six and seven months, but supply chain issues have extended the wait up to 27 months.

“So my request going through the city manager and the finance director was pay-upon-receipt, so this is not costing the city any money right now. Basically gets us in line so we can get this purchase stabilized in 2024,” Sollberger said.

The fire apparatus will cost the city more than $3 million, which had at-large councilman John Kelly wondering if the city could lease the equipment. Sollberger said that pathway would lead toward leasing out the entire fire department’s fleet.

Finance director Kyle Cratty said leasing would be viable if the city was committing to long-term renewals — changing city protocol.

“It would change how we traditionally have bought vehicles and equipment for the city,” Cratty said. “Normally when you are looking at leases…you are also looking at interest costs related to those leases. So, it would increase the long-term costs of those purchases.”

Currently, the fire department has two 2001 aerial trucks and one from 1994.

On another matter, Kelly called the idea of a 10-year agreement between the department and Exposition Gardens to host the yearly Candidate Physical Ability Tests, or CPAT, a “truly excellent example of flexibility.”

Sollberger said each year the department is tasked with finding a location to rent to allow these CPAT exercises. An idea that the department its own CPAT training facilities hit a wall when city engineers said the area's floodplains would prohibit construction.

“We know this is a great opportunity for us to be right in the heart of the City of Peoria,” Sollberger said. “The exposure is great, the partnership with Exposition Gardens is great. What I am really proud about saying is the fire department tasking ourselves to find the best options for us. We are going to save the city over $400,000 by bypassing on not building a CPAT building.

"We are also going to get the much-needed improvements down in our training facilities. We are going to be able to approve the space at Station 17 where we house other fire department firefighters, so we’re going to bring in revenue. We are going to bring in money to the City of Peoria, and actually get what we need.”

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Brady Johnson is a correspondent at WCBU. He can be reached at bradyjohnson383@gmail.com.