Omaha Fire Department looks to replace fleet

OFD is asking the city council for permission to start replacing all of its firefighting rigs.
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 5:50 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Omaha Fire Department is looking to replace its fleet.

Something that hasn’t been done in recent history.

Omaha Fire Battalion Chief Scott Fitzpatrick has been serving the city for 22 years now. He knows the ins and outs of all the rigs and medic units here at central headquarters.

“Since I’ve been on, we have not had something like this,” said Scott Fitzpatrick, Omaha Fire Battalion Chief.

Fitzpatrick says almost everything including aerials, ambulances, and ladder trucks is aging out.

They put tens of thousands of miles on them each year. Now they are asking city council to approve a purchase agreement to start the replacement process.

It would allow the fire department to buy 18 new vehicles over the next three years, at a cost of just over $10.9 million.

“We have some that are out of service more than they are in service because there are just more problems that happen with them. Some of them are 10 years old,” says Fitzpatrick.

And when the regular vehicles are undergoing maintenance, that means OFD has to bring out even older vehicles to serve the community.

Including an old medical rig. Our cameras captured crews being called out this morning in it.

While Fitzpatrick says they are safe to serve the community, there is a lot of wear and tear. He says there’s a reason now is the best time to replace the fleet they do have.

“There’s no one specific oh we need this rig or that rig. It’s just a continuation of replacing the rigs so they don’t get too old and not safe for the public and the firefighter operating them.”

Right now the vehicles are replaced when needed. But not all the vehicles are made by the same manufacturers.

That means drivers have to spend extra time learning where something as simple as lights, medication, or where the jaws of life are on a rig.

Fitzpatrick says the new vehicles will all be made by the same company, which he says will ultimately be good for response times.

“It will help with response time just because our drivers, they are driving the same rig if they are working overtime or get moved to another station. Wherever they go the vehicle is going to be exactly the same.”

The City council will vote on Tuesday. The next step would be extending that three-year ordinance to an eight-year replacement plan.

That means by 2029, OFD could potentially have 54 new vehicles.

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