The Brookings City Council gave Fire Chief Bill Sharp the go ahead Monday to solicit bids for a new firefighting engine for his department.

The council unanimously approved Sharps request to start the process of acquiring a new truck with an estimated price tag of $330,000.

The price of the emergency vehicle would include $280,000 for the new engine and an additional $50,000 to equip the truck with hoses, breathing apparatus, nozzles and other items.

Since 1994, the department has saved $270,000 toward the purchase of a new truck, according to Sharp.

The department proposed to utilize $200,000 of the money saved to make the down payment on the engine and $50,000 for the equipment.

The truck would be bought on a four-year lease/purchase contract with approximate payments of $22,500 per year.

Since the Brookings Fire Department has been able to save approximately $30,000 each year toward the truck purchase, Sharp said making the payment should be no problem.

He added there would be no balloon payment at the end of the four years and the department would have full ownership of the engine.

City Manager Leroy Blodgett said moving forward with the purchase was a fiscally-sound proposal. We have been saving money for some time to make the purchase, he said. But the prices on the engines escalate about as fast as we are able to put money away.

Staff is recommending that we go ahead with the bid process.

Sharp told the council that seven years ago the estimated cost of a new fire engine was approximately $160,000, and the price apparently goes up about 10 percent every year.

We think this is a good time to move ahead with getting bids on the truck, he said, while interest rates are low and before the cost of trucks goes up.

One obstacle the department faced in previous years was the lack of space at the fire hall to house a new truck. Sharp said that problem has now been taken care of thanks to a cooperative effort with another local fire department.

At issue before was Where would we put it? he said. About a year ago we entered into a contract with the Upper Chetco Rural Fire Protection District.

We are proposing that we donate Engine II to them. By doing that we make room for the new truck and we can keep (engine) II as a backup, which will help ensure us of keeping our ISO rating of 4.

Engine II, a 1974 Mack, would remain available to the city under the present contract with Upper Chetco Fire District, which runs 10 years in length.

Councilman Larry Curry said the idea of donating Engine II would be valuable to them while remaining valuable to us too.

Sharp added that no renovations or modifications would need to be made to the truck bays at the fire hall for the new engine because the size of the trucks are pretty much dictated by industry standards.

The bidding process will close Nov. 13 and Sharp hopes to receive council approval on a final bid during the councils Nov. 19 meeting.

The fire chief said it could take anywhere from four months to a year from the time the new fire engine is ordered until it is placed into service.