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How Grand Chute Fire is dealing with delayed fire truck production

Posted at 5:17 AM, Jan 31, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-31 07:40:10-05

APPLETON (NBC 26) — Fire departments are extending the lifespan of their engines due to delayed manufacturing and rising costs.

  • Grand Chute Fire has been waiting for a new ladder truck for nearly three years.
  • Shipping delays have caused manufacturers, like Pierce, to face a healthy backlog.
  • GFD and other Fox Valley departments work together to share equipment share when needed and keeping our safety their top priority.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

As more and more departments struggle to get new fire trucks, firefighters like Grand Chute Chief Steve Denzien are placing extra importance on maintaining the ones that they have. I'm your Appleton neighborhood reporter Olivia Acree with the challenges fire departments are facing.

These days in Grand Chute when a truck needs work it's a much bigger deal.

“In the absence of this we actually placed this piece of apparatus in service,” said Chief Steve Denzien, Grand Chute Fire.

The chief says they're leaning on old trucks while waiting for the new.

“We're keeping trucks longer than what we normally would. So, we're putting a lot more money into work on them,” said Denzien.

Fire trucks are custom made. Denzien says it used to take about a year to make a truck but because of covid-led shipping delays it takes closer to three years.

“Our newest rig that we have is 10 years old. We have a new one that's on order. We're supposed to be getting it later in this year,” said Denzien.

Not only has the order time gone up, but so has the price.

“I mean these are going for about a million bucks now, the ladder truck was about two,” said Denzien.

Denzien says when he started in the service 31 years ago the same engines were more like $350,000 and $500,000.

Right in our backyard is Pierce manufacturing: A major fire truck maker.

Pierce executives were not available for an interview, but the company responded by email telling us they're expanding facilities.

And part of their expansion " ... included adding over 200 new jobs within our newly expanded fox cities facilities,” said a statement from Lisa Barwick, Pierce Marketing VP.

Despite delays, Denzien says he's waiting for Pierce.

“They've been very accommodating with that they're very good with expressing timelines so that it gets to us when we absolutely need it,” said Denzien.

So, when the bell sounds, the crew and their engine can get out the door hitch free.

Pierce manufacturing also said in their statement that while they are addressing the manufacturing delays, they still maintain a healthy backlog but their still focused on making sure every department is getting the highest quality engine that meets their needs.