Douglas firehouse’s new $600,000 engine

Juneau and Douglas residents may notice a new vehicle taking part in this year’s Independence Day parades and activities.

Capital City Fire/Rescue’s new Engine 21 arrived in Juneau aboard the state ferry Columbia on Monday.

“We are planning on putting it in the parade,” said Fire Chief Rich Etheridge.

Engine 21 is a Pierce model that can pump 1,500 gallons a minute, and it’s identical to two other new engines used for structure fires that have been assigned to the downtown and airport stations.

After it’s checked out by their mechanic, stocked with supplies and fitted with gear, Etheridge said Engine 21 will replace an older KME brand engine at the Douglas Station that has been with the department for over 20 years.

“If they sit and sit and sit, it’s really bad for them. You have to be exercising them. But the more you exercise them, the more wear and tear,” Etheridge said.

As it becomes more difficult to get parts, mechanics focus more on keeping the trucks running rather than preventative maintenance.

“We only have one mechanic for about 50 pieces of apparatus. So, he’s stretched pretty thin,” Etheridge said.

“If we can stick to all one brand, that really helps out with parts and different service centers that we have to deal with.”

Etheridge said the total cost of the apparatus, including shipping, is a little over $600,000.

“The nice thing about the way these are purchased is that it’s not $600,000 out of our budget this year. It’s a few hundred thousand dollars every year gets put into our fleet replacement fund,” Etheridge said. “We’ve been adding to that for quite a while. Once the money is there, then we go ahead and buy that.”

The old Engine 21 may be moved to replace another apparatus at the Auke Bay Station. That engine will replace an older Seagraves brand vehicle at the Lynn Canal Station that will be designated as surplus and may be handed over to Hoonah or another small fire department in Southeast Alaska.

Etheridge said having identical engines in the Auke Bay and Lynn Canal stations will also simplify training of personnel.