Cost of new Smithfield fire vehicles increases by $125,000

Published 2:11 pm Friday, December 9, 2022

Isle of Wight County supervisors have approved an additional $125,000 toward the purchase of two Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department vehicles originally slated to be delivered this year.

County and Smithfield VFD officials had signed a roughly $2.5 million contract with the emergency vehicle manufacturer Seagrave last year for a 95-foot, 2022-model Aerialscope ladder truck and a 2022-model Marauder II pumper, intended to replace the department’s existing 1995 pumper and 1998 ladder truck. Isle of Wight was to fund $1.89 million, amounting to 75% of the cost, with the remainder funded via VFD money and a $250,000 donation from Smithfield Foods payable over five years.

“We’ve had the unprecedented situation of the vendor coming back and not being able to build the trucks because of supply chain issues,” County Administrator Randy Keaton told the supervisors at their Nov. 17 meeting.

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According to Keaton, Seagrave had originally proposed adding a 15% surcharge to the original contract, which would have driven the cost up roughly $350,000. The VFD, he said, was able to foot roughly $200,000 of the added cost with the county agreeing to pay the extra $125,000 in exchange for additional warranty years on the two vehicles.

The VFD funded its $200,000 share by borrowing roughly $400,000 at a 2.98% interest rate. According to Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson, the amount of interest the VFD will pay over the seven-year loan period is approximately $40,000, or roughly 10% of the loan amount.

The Aerialscope will be the first-ever new ladder truck to be custom built for the Smithfield VFD. The revised purchase agreement also marks the first time in the county’s history where both the county and the vendor will be co-holders of a lien on the department’s emergency vehicles.

The supervisors voted unanimously on Nov. 17 to approve the additional $125,000 in county money.

The original $1.89 million county contribution had come from a roughly $34 million bond Isle of Wight had taken out in 2020 to partially fund the construction of the new Hardy Elementary School slated to open in 2023, and fire and rescue needs. The additional $125,000 will also come from bond funding, and as such won’t impact the county’s general fund this year, Keaton said.

The Carrollton VFD had also ordered 2022-model replacement vehicles from a different manufacturer roughly 10 months before Smithfield signed its contract. Those two vehicles were delivered earlier this year without requiring an additional contribution by the county.