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Riverton Volunteer Fire Department assistant chief Scott Walters tried out the winch on one of two retrofitted tanker trucks recently acquired by the RVFD. Photo by Wayne Nicholls

Retrofit gives RVFD two fire trucks for the price of one

Apr 25, 2014 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The Riverton Volunteer Fire Department saved hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars this year by refurbishing two of its old tanker trucks.

The original machines were constructed in the 1990s with modular bodies that could be rebuilt with new chassis in the future.

RVFD business manager Jeff Kehl said the two oldest chassis hadn't been replaced since 1998 and 1999. Now, they look like new.

"We got them shined up, repainted and ready to go," Kehl said. "They're in service now, (and) they get used quite a bit."

Tanker 21 was on the job about six weeks ago, he said, with tanker 7 in use since later in March.

The water tenders, or "brush trucks," have been equipped with new, bigger pumps and larger, four-wheel drive Mack chassis with higher clearance and extra horsepower. They carry more than 1,000 gallons of water and have full winch capabilities.

Kehl said the machines were made to meet 2014 National Fire Protection Association standards for rural firefighting.

Cost

The RVFD spent about $300,000 to refurbish two of the agency's three tankers. Half of the money came from a county consensus matching grant for $150,000. The rest was from the RVFD depreciation reserve account for new apparatus.

Kehl said new vehicles would have cost about $350,000 each.

"We figured by getting the two new chassis, putting the old bodies on those, adding some money for some new pumps and things of that nature, that basically we refurbished two for the cost of one new one," he said. "I thought (we) did a real good job of stretching taxpayers' dollars. (We're) real happy with the outcome."

The work was bid competitively, with the best proposal coming from the Mack Trucks dealer in Casper.

"We don't have any heavy duty truck dealers in Fremont County," Kehl noted.

Diesel Power and Parts in Riverton did the conversion work. Kehl said RVFD chief Mike Hutchison, assistant chief Scott Walters and truck committee chairman Jim Woodward were in charge of the project. They will initiate another undertaking in the future, Kehl guessed.

"We're kind of trying to build the reserve again," he said. "We do have some needs, but we're probably about four or five years out."

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