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Ceres Fire apparatus being manufactured
Fire apparatus from Rosenbauer Fire Apparatus North America will likely roll into Ceres in the spring of 2020 following last week's council action to make $2.8 million in purchases.

Ceres Fire Department officials have wasted no time in getting the order underway for four new vehicles which will be delivered in 2020.

In November the Ceres City Council approved the financing of $2.8 million worth of new firefighting apparatus for the Ceres Fire Department.

Last fall the department asked for a new $1 million quint ladder truck, two fire engines and an engine to fight brush fires. On Nov. 13, the council approved the purchase of the four vehicles from Rosenbauer Fire Apparatus North America using the Sourcewell consortium for greater purchasing power. The delivery is not expected to take place until February or March of 2020.

On Dec. 11 Fire Captain Rich Schola updated the council that a crew from Ceres spent a week for pre-construction meetings at the manufacturing plants in Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota. The Ceres team looked at different types of fire vehicles and options in nearly sub-zero temperatures. Their next trip will be in another four months, about midway through the process of construction.

To fund the purchase, the council approved a loan from the city’s sewer fund to the General Fund. City Manager Toby Wells presented two viable financing options: borrow the funds which would have added several hundred thousand dollars in interest costs over 10 years; or borrow from the city’s $13.9 million sewer fund at a lower interest rate to be repaid annually over the next decade. The interest rate needs to be charged back to the city since sewer funds are earning an interest rate of about 3 percent, said Wells.

The city has not purchased fire apparatus since 2006 which has led to higher maintenance costs and reliability concerns. From 2013 to 2018, the city spent $740,981 for repairs in the fire fleet. The city expects to use the reduced maintenance costs to help pay for the loan on the new equipment. The new debt should run the city about $295,000 annually.

Rosenbauer was the lowest of three bidders at $577,729 for each fire engine.

In the 2019-20 fiscal year the city expects to order $250,000 worth of items such as extraction tools, ventilation fans and chainsaws. It will be budgeted from Measure H and General Fund dollars.