By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
Picture Butte Emergency Services will be retaining a utility truck for their fleet.
During their regular May 25 meeting, Picture Butte town council discussed a proposal for the Emergency Services department’s fleet to re-designate the 1991 GMC 3500 previously in use, as the command unit with a waiver from the requirements of the Fleet Replacement Policy.
With the completion of the 2021 Command Truck Capital Project, the existing unit was scheduled for surplus. However, Director of Emergency Services Frank West said internally, the recommendation is the truck’s existing value as a utility truck support unit outweighs its potential resale value, and requested council approves the department keeping the truck and adding it to their fleet.
The costs would not come with any additional budget requests and will be managed within the approved operating budget. The truck would not be included in the Fleet Replacement Policy and would not be subject to capital replacement.
“The intent would be to maintain the utility truck through the replacement of the command truck, so it’s always a second or third-hand piece of equipment,” said West.
The intent would be to utilize existing trucks when the command truck is replaced through the existing fleet schedule. As well, the Picture Butte Firefighters’Association has agreed to fund any unforeseen mechanical breakdowns and ongoing maintenance that may occur during the use of the utility truck, as to not impact the operating budget.
It is estimated the operational costs of adding the utility truck to the fleet is approximately $1,500 a year -for insurance, fuel and regular maintenance for oil changes and wiper blade replacements.
It would be a billable resource when deployed outside of the town at the rate of $185 per hour, according to the 2020 Alberta Transportation rate, and the total annual operating cost could be covered by eight hours of billable time each year.
West said fundraising was utilized to obtain the truck and purchased by the Picture Butte Firefighters’Association, and the association has agreed to fund any unforeseen mechanical breakdowns and ongoing maintenance that may occur during the use of the utility truck, as to not impact the operating budget.
“The real goal is to have this with no significant finance impact. I can’t say there’s never a financial impact, because we have to, as a municipality, pay for the insurance and the fuel, and the cost of keeping it on the road. But I project those being fairly minimal, and for that minimal additional cost, we see there’s still a bit of value and potential in the truck,” said West.
“I’m sure everybody knows the value of keeping a pick-up truck around the house. It’s the same thing for us.”
The truck could be possibly used for things such as the transport of two additional firefighters to the scene of any emergency, provide clean-up of used fire hose and equipment from fire scenes, provide firefighter crew relief on extended duration emergency calls, help out with logistics functions of the department such as transporting supplies and equipment, be used by the on-duty officer as an additional command unit when Command 3 is unavailable, be used as an additional wildland unit during the fire season and provide backfill command or wildland unit if provincial deployment is requested.
When asked if the department would use the truck, West said it was a new thing for the department to try, and all their listed potential uses are hypothetical.
Additionally, the new unit had only just come into service, so the department hasn’t had the opportunity to use the utility truck in any capacity yet.
West said the proposal could come with a caveat of revisiting it at a later date, to determine the use and demand for it. Coun. Joe Watson suggested the department run it through the summer, and if the department finds they are not using it, they can put it up for sale then, noting it will “go easy.”
Council passed a motion to approve the Utility Truck Emergency Services Fleet Proposal as presented, and that the budget for the town to maintain the vehicle to not pass $1,500.