"About five years ago, we ran into quite a financial crisis and a lot of our equipment budget were really strapped down and we didn't do a lot of anything unless it was an emergency purchase,” said Mike Kimmerling, Bloomington’s fire chief.
As a result, maintenance got put on the back burner.
"I don't think we ever got ourselves in a position where we're in dire straits for vehicles,” said Kimmerling.
But it did put some strain on the fleet. Vehicles that should have been replaced every 10-12 years, instead stayed on for 15 years or longer.
"A lot of times, it's not the mileage, but it's the engine hours. How long did these vehicles run and things that again are always an issue with the department is we have all these nice front-line vehicles, but they also have to have all that routine maintenance done on them,” said Kimmerling.
Engine No. 7 is still very useful for fighting fires. It can pump water to the site, but the ladder can’t be used any more to fight them.
Now, with more money to work with, some of the front-line vehicles that have gone on too many runs will make the transition to backup duty.
Engine 7 will also be replaced and the fleet will have a new ambulance added, and as the pieces slowly come together, Kimmerling is optimistic about the department's future.
"I would say, yes, it would be nice to have, to be a little further along, but I think we're in really, really good shape,” said Kimmerling.
The new ambulance is expected to be ready in three to six months. The engine could be six to nine. At that time, the fire department will shift some of its vehicles to the other stations in town.
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