$9.9 million approval of new WFFD fleet comes at the right time for department, city

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WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — During that city council meeting, a huge boost came to the Wichita Falls Fire Department, one that costs almost $10 million, but couldn’t come at a better time for the department and the city.

“It’s hard to put into words on the vote that just took place,” WFFD Fire Chief Ken Prillaman said.

That’s after the Wichita Falls City Council unanimously decided to spend $9.92 million on a slew of new apparatuses, at a time when interest rates are lower than ever.

“The fleet that transports us there matters, it matters from a mechanical aspect, it matters that those pumps are working 100% of the time, it matters that the ladder works to get that person hanging out a window,” Prillaman said.

In total: eight new pierce enforcer custom fire pumps, two custom fire ladder trucks, two skeeter squads, and one rescue emergency vehicle, finally making their fleet consistent throughout.

“We have something like 11 different tires in stock to maintain our fleet, we probably have 11 oil filters and 11 different windshield wipers and the idea of having a fleet that matches,” Prillaman said. “So when you go to look for an axe, it’s in the same compartment in the same location on every single engine no matter what station you’re in. And when you’re a driver and we send you to a station that you perhaps haven’t driven at in a while, to know your getting in the cab of the exact same apparatus, our training costs, our orientation goes down, our overall efficiency goes up with the way we’re doing it.”

And it goes beyond the department, getting the efficiency up saves lives and the city money in the future.

“Not only showing support for the fire department but also for the citizens of Wichita Falls, a long time coming those are apparatus that we need dearly, we spend a lot of money maintaining and preparing these things and it just makes sense to get this in and we can take that money we spend for maintenance and start applying for general fund or that bond payment,” Mayor Stephen Santellana said.

Millions of dollars and a million reasons, to get this new fleet in Wichita Falls.

“The impact on the community will be felt for many many years, this is a purchase that will last the city for at least another 24 years, 12 as frontline pieces, then 12 we’ll roll over at the 12 year mark and roll over to reserve and replace the frontline again,” Prillaman said.

And because pierce is custom building those 15 apparatuses, Prillaman and the department anticipate it to take about 12 to 17 months, with the new fleet in action by Spring of 2023!

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