SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — The Township Committee agreed at its Nov. 6 meeting to authorize $1 million in bonds, more than half of it for a new fire engine to replace a 19-year-old model that is nearing the end of its recommended lifespan.
“We’re at a point with the equipment where this has to take place.” Mayor Erica DuBois said at the meeting. “The safety of our first responders is of utmost importance. We can’t put people out in equipment that’s not going to keep them safe.”
Engine No. 3 was transported to Pennsylvania in July for three months of “Band-Aid” repairs, costing the township $12,000. The truck returned at the end of September and repair technicians told the township it was not feasible to keep making repairs because of its age. Engine No. 3, which has a recommended lifespan of 20 years, is currently being used only as a backup vehicle to Engine No. 2, which was purchased in 2016.
The Township Committee unanimously approved the introduction of the bond ordinance — which also includes $142,800 for sewer upgrades, $179,000 for building maintenance and road signs, $34,500 for a police vehicle and $49,500 for additional police equipment — but not the purchase of any items. It did approve down payments.
The new fire engine proposed has a price tag of $754,000, according to the bond resolution. The ordinance approved $29,800 for a down payment and another $130,000 to be spent out of capital funds.
The $130,000 had been earmarked for the truck after fire officials had previously warned the committee of the need to replace the aging truck. The funds will not be available until after January, DuBois said at the meeting.
A representative from the fire department will have to appear before the Township Committee so the money raised from the bond sale can be spent.
“We have top-notch first responders here, and we have to keep them safe,” DuBois said.
“I just want people to understand, because any time money is spent on anything, people’s ears perk up. Sometimes, the life of the vehicle or equipment just runs its course and whoever is sitting up here at the time just has to make the decision to replace it.
“It’s not as if there was anybody’s responsibility prior to this, we just happen to be sitting here and it’s a necessity and has to be replaced. I think both of our chiefs are very good at acquiring funds through grants through other avenues for a lot of things, but at some point you sometimes have to spend money on things.”
DuBois said the request to purchase the new truck was not unexpected.
“The down payment we already have in capital funds because we’ve been putting money away, projecting that this is going to be an issue, so we do have a down payment ready,” she said. “I know nobody likes to hear about money being spent, but this is for a good reason and will keep everybody safe and keep our guys safe.
“I think it becomes a safety issue. Instead of constantly putting the money in for repairs, to maybe stretch it out a few more months. I don’t think it’s going to be safe to drive for an extended period of time.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version incorrectly stated the amount of the bond ordinance approved and the cost of the fire truck.