Leighton Twp. must decide between new fire truck or repair old one

Leighton Fire LogoThe Leighton Township Board soon will have to decide whether to buy a new fire truck or have a 24-year-old unit repaired.

Fire Chief Tony Banas and two other department members brought the question to the board Thursday night, but the matter was tabled in order to get a little more information before the budget workshop planned for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18.

Banas said the pumper on Engine No. 12, a 1991 GMC model, failed and now is operating at only about 50% efficiency and it has been shown to have motor and transmission issues.

“It has served us well,” the chief said, “but it’s getting old.”

Banas said estimates to rebuild the pumper have been set at $9,245 and rebuilding the transmission and aging engine have been pegged at more than $19,000, bringing the total cost of a repair project to about $28,500.

Another option, he said, is to purchase a new vehicle from Pierce Manufacturing in Florida, ready to go in about a month, for $371,618.

“If we order from Pierce, we could have it in about a month, and it would meet our needs,” Banas told the board.

“There’s a huge difference between $30,000 (for repairs) and $371,000,” said Treasurer Car Troost.

Banas noted the 1991 vehicle could be sold for between $10,000 and $15,000, but that’s about it.

“I don’t see the wisdom in spending about $30,000 on a truck that’s only worth ten to fifteen thousand dollars,” said Trustee John Hooker.

Supervisor Steve Deer asked if the repairs could buy another five years of life for the 1991 truck.

Banas said he really couldn’t make a solid prediction.

Furthermore, it was noted that the $371,000 price tag on a new unit could be increased by as much as $64,000 next year.

Troost and Clerk Mary Lou Nieuwenhuis suggested bring the issue back for next Wednesday’s budget workshop, asking Deer to check with the City of Wayland and Wayland if there is any progress on the idea of creating a fire district.


  • The third member of the Department present at the meeting – the mechanic – was correct about the condition of the engine in truck #12. A few years ago we had a vehicle fire (fortunately it was outside and away from structures) and the crew responded with #12. It set running while pumps were energized to extinguish the fire. By the time the fire was out it was hard to tell which created more smoke – my burning car or the oil smoke from the exhaust of #12!

  • All of the below average conditions (delivery pump, engine, transmission) of #12 can be rebuilt / repaired, but the cost to do so was estimated at nearly $29,000. The mechanic also indicated that some items not normally deemed to be ‘wear and tear’ things like instrument panels, passenger cab heating apparatus, etc., might be very difficult to replace if necessary due to the lack of spare components. My experience in the past with repairing obsolete equipment (say ‘Bolens’) has been frustrating to say the least, and sometimes required weeks of downtime while used or New Old Stock (N.O.S.) parts were located and then at extremely high costs. If the age of the truck itself inhibits the township property owners from paying the lowest possible premiums for insurance against property losses then that too should have a strong impact on the Board’s decision. Although I initially felt repairs were a much better option to spending in excess $371,000 on a new truck more factors have come to light, and my position isn’t as solid as it once was. (Besides, if I can pick up a REAL fire engine for my grandsons to play on for only $10,000, why not!)

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