The city has one of its fire trucks on the auction block, with the current bid at $13,099 on the popular buying and selling Web site, eBay. Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief Jacob Lisman said the city is selling the truck because arbitration between the city and the local firefighters union require three personnel per piece of apparatus. Lisman said the fire truck on sale can only be occupied by two people, and therefore does not meet the manning requirements.
"We typically run with three or four engines in service," Lisman said. "That means we have a total of seven. My thinking is that if we have two or three (trucks) in reserve, that is an acceptable level."
In addition, Lisman said, the city has mutual-aid agreements with Kingston, Hanover Township and Plains Township to assist if a fire is too much for the city's department. "And that was proven at the Murray Complex fire in October. We needed help from our sister communities, and I'm comfortable with the sale of the truck."
Lisman said after the truck is sold, the fire department will have six engines available for use, in addition to one area ladder truck.
But Tom Makar, president of the firefighters union, said the union doesn't think the reason has anything to with firefighters.
"That vehicle ran with another mini-fire apparatus, so the two vehicles always went (to a fire) together," Makar said. "We may agree it would have been better if it had a cab for three firefighters, but it's still usable."
Makar said this particular fire truck has been used for the past four years, and there was never a manning problem before. "The decisions on purchasing and selling apparatus is made by city administration," Makar said. "We have used that apparatus ever since we've had this arbitration. And we've used it without a problem, and there continues to be several uses for it."
Makar said although it's never a good idea to get rid of a fire truck for the safety of residents, if that's the decision of administration, the department will have to accept it. And, with the money the city gets from selling the vehicle, another one may be purchased.
"It's still a very good piece of apparatus and selling it doesn't seem to be the most prudent decision," Makar said.
Lisman said once the truck is sold, the money will go back into the city's Office of Economic and Community Development, which is currently budgeting to spend nearly $55,000 on equipment for the fire department, including bunker gear and fire hose.
Last year, bunker gear and a vehicle were purchased for the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department through the program.
The eBay ad says the truck, a 1998 GMC/Ferrara Fire Engine, is in "very good shape, with low miles." The ad says that the truck comes with all equipment, except hand tools, extinguishers, and self-contained breathing apparatus.
Lisman said he's had inquiries as far away as Chile, South America, about the purchase of the truck, as well as Alabama, Ohio and other states.
As of Wednesday evening, there were 11 bids on the fire truck. It will be up for bid until March 16 on eBay Motors.
Written by The Times Leader
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