Government / Politics

City Council approves purchase of water tanker for fire department

Council accepts FEMA grant of $542,387 for water tanker to support fire fighting in county; City's share is $96,000

On Nov. 30, the Hollister City Council voted 4-0 (Councilwoman Mickie Solorio-Luna was absent) to pass a resolution to accept a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant agreement and authorize the appropriation of $542,387 toward a water tender truck for the Hollister Fire Department.

Hollister Fire Department Captain Bob Martin Del Campo briefed the council about the acquisition.

“The appropriation will be a 10 percent/90 percent split for a Type One Tactical Water Tender for the outlying areas that don’t have hydrants every 200 feet,” Del Campo said. “It’s going to provide a fire-suppression source of 4,000 gallons at 1,200 gallons per minute.”

He said the financial impact to the city will be $96,000, which is in addition to the 10 percent, as well as the California state tax. Once a federal grant to purchase equipment is accepted, he said, the local government pays the taxes. In this instance, the tax amounts to $42,000.

Councilman Raymond Friend started of the questioning with a joke: “When did Rolls Royce start building fire trucks?”

Del Campo took the gibe good-naturedly and responded: “This is similar sounding. (The manufacturer) is Rosenbauer. My firefighters went after a piece of equipment through three bids and this was the best suited. As a matter of fact, this was the least expensive.”

He said the department was allotted $596,000 to include the amount the city would provide. The grant, he reminded the council, is $542,387.

Friend asked, sounding somewhat dismayed, if the chassis, alone, cost $275,000. Del Campo confirmed the figure and Friend quizzed, “There’s $300,000 worth of equipment on that thing!” 

“Yes, it is the pump, the chassis, the electrical equipment, the hydraulic equipment,” Del Campo said and added, “Believe it or not, with the new fire industry equipment and standards this is a very reasonable piece of equipment.”

The chief explained that the money that would be spent was well worth the cost compared to the medium cost of a home in the area.

“The first time it gets deployed to save a house at Comstock or the outlying area, it will pay for itself,” he said.

“I understand that 90 percent of the need for this truck will be in the unincorporated areas,” Friend said. “Has anything been put in the contract for the unincorporated areas that would help pay for this?”

Del Campo said there was nothing in the contract to cover cost to the unincorporated areas.

“We didn’t talk to the other agencies about it,” he said. “This gives us full ownership and we can use it anyway we want.”

Councilman Karson Klauer let it be known from the start that he supported the resolution.

“Any time you can get that much money from someone else, it’s nice,” he said, then asked, “That’s about three and a half minutes of water. Is that a lot?”

Del Campo assured him that it was.

“How we configure that is an engine carries 750 gallons of water,” he said. “We can fill up at least four engines and they can do fire suppression for 20 or 30 minutes. As they’re doing fire suppression that piece of equipment goes and fills up again and comes back to the scene. It’s consistent service to the suppression action, giving us a prolonged, sustainable amount of fire suppression.”

Del Campo said the city has a similar truck that it got from the county, but it is old and doesn’t meet present standards of the National Fire Protection Association, which the new vehicle does.

Klauer asked if the vehicle would have a future use within the city.

“Yes, it would,” Del Campo said. “In the event we experience another 1989-type earthquake and the water supply goes down because of broken lines, it will be our only source of water.”

John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a BenitoLink reporter and an author. He has many years' experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]