On Monday, Shawnee City Commissioners authorized staff to buy a couple large-ticket items for the Fire Department: a Pierce Ascendant 107-foot aerial fire truck including loose firefighting equipment at a cost of $982,360.71; and a Pierce PUC Pumper truck including loose firefighting equipment at a cost of $657,102.

On Monday, Shawnee City Commissioners authorized staff to buy a couple large-ticket items for the Fire Department: a Pierce Ascendant 107-foot aerial fire truck including loose firefighting equipment at a cost of $982,360.71; and a Pierce PUC Pumper truck including loose firefighting equipment at a cost of $657,102.

The two trucks with equipment will come from Conrad Fire Equipment.

Fire Chief Dru Tischer said the purchases would take the fleet from pretty rough shape to great shape.

He said the new 107-foot ladder truck will replace Station No. 1's 75-foot ladder truck, which will be sent to Station No. 3.

“We want to try to get a few more years out of the 2004 ladder truck as a backup,” he said.

Tisher said right now the ladder truck at Station No. 1 is currently Shawnee's only one — when it's down, there isn't another one to use.

“It will also enable us to have a ladder truck within five road-miles of some of our high hazard facilities, like the hotels and universities and some of the big stores,” he said.

Ward 2 City Commissioner Ron Gillham Sr. asked Tischer the average life span of such a vehicle.

Tischer said the truck they have now has been in service for the past 13 years.

“We have probably gone a little too far with it,” he said. “We had to put some money and maintenance into the truck that ideally would've been better as a trade-in earlier — like at the 10-year mark — so we could still get more money for it without pouring more money into it,” he said.

The ladder requires a lot of work due to the safety aspect of it, he said.

“In this case, we've done the work and have maintained it well, so we'll get a few more years out of it,” he said.

Tischer said the delivery time on getting the new trucks is a year for the ladder truck and about 10 months for the pumper truck.

Ward 3 City Commissioner James Harrod said until now he hadn't really considered the need for a 100-foot ladder truck. He said he was convinced after Ward 5 City Commissioner Darren Rutherford made a point of how quickly and ably the fire department's ladder truck doused the recent blaze at Joe Cooper dealership's new site under construction near Interstate 40.

Mayor Richard Finley said he had been under the same impression.

“You generally only think of a ladder in terms of going up, but it also goes out,” Finley said.

Tischer agreed, saying the added height of the ladder will get firefighters 32 more feet of reach than they currently have with their equipment now.

It's not just about high-rises, but also difficult-to-reach areas, Tischer said.

The commission unanimously approved the purchase of both fire trucks.

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.