In service for a few months now, the new Engine 1-1 housed at the Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District main firehouse on Coley Avenue is sleek, shiny and ready to respond.
“This is our first out to almost everything,” explained Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello. “It’s a 2013 Rosenbauer EXT custom pumper.”
The 750-gallon capacity engine has a 1,500 gallon per minute pumping capacity and replaced a 1999 Ferrara that had served as Engine 1-1 for many years.
“That one is at Station 2 now, pending what will be the next step,” Mello said.
Station 2 is west of the railroad tracks at the city’s edge, near the intersection of Highway 120 and Van Allen Road. Mello said the department is considering whether to replace and upgrade the engine or replace it with a better used engine, whichever works better financially for the district.
“This particular unit was being used as a demonstrator model,” Mello said of the new Engine 1-1.
He and Battalion Chief Joe Pelot saw it at a show and felt it would suit the needs of the city perfectly.
“We liked the design, we liked the craftsmanship, and we knew our Engine 1-1 had reached the end,” he said. “It really was a perfect storm; we received an anonymous donation to help with the down payment.”
The department put $40,000 down on the rig, and though it had a list price of nearly $433,000 they were able to purchase it for $400,000. It came from Minnesota and is just over a year old.
The department opted for a 15-year municipal lease on the engine, allowing for easier management of the cash flow through the agency to make payment on the engine.
“We just made the first payment of $35,000,” Mello said. “The way this works, at the end of the lease, you have purchased it.”
Along with having the new engine in service, Mello said the department is now working under the 2015-16 fiscal year budget, which came in slightly down from the 2014-15 budget. Each shift is running with three personnel, though they are filling in with reserves and volunteers as the department lost firefighter Gerardo Preciado, who took another position just before summer.
This year’s budget, Mello said, came in at just over $1.11 million, compared to $1.12 million last year.
“We are not a part of the city so we get no sales tax, all of our revenue is from property tax, developer fees and a fee for service on out of district calls,” Mello explained.
He said the department is also waiting to hear on a couple of grants, for staffing, and personal protection equipment, hoping those will come through for this year.
Personnel costs make up about two-thirds of the budget he added, with total personnel costs listed at $735,300.
The department is a 24-hour on call service, with three shifts rotating. ‘A’ shift has Chris Johnson as the Battalion Chief with firefighter Cassidy Bohannon; ‘B’ shift is Battalion Chief Terry Pinheiro and firefighter Ryan Burr; ‘C’ shift is Battalion Chief Joe Pelot and firefighter Moe Silva. Reserves and volunteers fill in so each shift has three personnel on duty.
They also had to pull additional shifts when Pinheiro was sent out on a strike team earlier this month.
“He was the strike team leader, it was made up of OES (Office of Emergency Services) and San Joaquin and Yolo counties,” said Mello. “Terry was on the Rough Fire near Hume Lake, they were protecting the Hume Lake Christian Camp and did a lot of work there, he left on Tuesday, Aug. 18 and came back Tuesday, Aug. 25.”
Newest reserves for the department include Rigo Fonseca, Connor Coker and Colby Seibel and the department is also currently selling T-shirts in support of department chaplain Jim Davis, who is undergoing cancer treatment.
“The shirts sell for $25 and $13 of that goes directly to the family,” Mello said.
You can stop by the firehouse on Coley Avenue to order or call for more information, 838-7500.
Mello also invited the community to the department’s annual Community Moment of Silence on Sept. 11. This year, the gathering will also be in memory of Brent Layton, who passed away unexpectedly earlier this year and had been an honorary member of the fire department.
Friday, Sept. 11 at 9:11 a.m. will be the brief service and prayer, open to all in the community. The firehouse is at 1749 Coley.