HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Eight brand new custom made fire engines are in service countywide, with a ladder truck on the way. The Horry County fire rescue chief can't help but smile when he talks about the department's new toys this time around.
"They're in service. They've been running calls. They've been doing a good job," Horry County Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Tanner said about the new Pierce-manufactured fire trucks.
The story may sound familiar. HCFR received 13 new vehicles from the manufacturer KME over a year ago, only to have five of them quickly go out of service for mechanical issues. After the county stated it would no longer do business with KME because of the problems, officials announced they'd take their millions of dollars to another contractor. That contractor is Pierce.
The KME deal remains a touchy subject, and is ongoing in Horry County. The county paid KME almost $8 million dollars for thirteen custom vehicles in 2014. Pierce has been paid almost $5 million dollars for eight engines and a ladder truck. The ladder truck's arrival is expected in June, the chief said.
The Pierce vehicles were purchased in early 2016, and arrived last month. So far, the chief said he's pleased.
"It's like anything, a new car…you might have a sensor switch here that may show a fault of whatever, but we've had no issues with them in service. We've not had to take any of them out of service for any period of time for anything, except to maybe change a sensor here or there," Chief Tanner said.
HCFR is expecting at least ten good years of service from the new engines. Ten years is a life span the chief hopes not to pass since the county started its engine replacement program in 2014 to keep equipment up-to-date and repair costs down through a millage tax increase. Chief Tanner said most trucks in the county were hitting the 20 year mark.
"One of the biggest issues you have is you have dependability issues and you have maintenance issues with trucks as they get older. So by what we're doing here now, we shouldn't have that dependability issue or high maintenance issue moving forward," Chief Tanner explained.
Pierce is holding true to the county's expectations so far, and firefighters have received training on the new engines. The department anxiously awaited the new equipment as service calls continue to increase ten percent each year. To compare service calls from month to month, or year to year, click here.
Horry County Fire Rescue will host a public event to introduce and display several new apparatuses. The event will take place on Wednesday, May 24, at 10 a.m. at Allens Fire Station, located at 2501 Bay Water Drive off of Highway 319 at Highway 22.
For related stories on the KME engines, click here.