The Freeport Fire Department has hired a consultant to help determine what apparatus is needed. Kate Irish Collins / The Forecaster

FREEPORT — With new fire trucks costing well over half a million dollars, Fire Chief Charles Jordan said he needs the help of a professional consultant to ensure the department gets the best possible vehicle. That’s why the Town Council approved spending $14,800 on a study of the Fire Department’s fleet Oct. 1.

Jordan said a fleet assessment conducted by Emergency Vehicle Response, a company headed by a former New York City firefighter, will determine what type of truck will provide the most bang for the town’s buck.

Jordan said once the fleet assessment is completed, it could be another five years before Freeport is ready to bring a new fire truck online.

Emergency Vehicle Response will examine all vehicles in the department’s fleet, including ambulances, and advise the department on replacing its pumper, tanker and ladder trucks.

Jordan said he hopes the town can buy one vehicle that combines the functionality of two. The question, he told the council, is whether it would be better to combine the pump and ladder trucks or the pump and tanker trunks.

The company said it would base its recommendations on National Fire Protection Association standards. Jordan said the expertise provided by Emergency Vehicle Response is especially important in saving time and money when it comes to ordering a new fire truck.

“I really think we need that extra piece of professional help,” Jordan said. “These people live, breath, eat and sleep this and I really think it’s what we need.”

Council Chairwoman Sarah Tracy noted the cost of the fleet assessment was $300 more than the town initially set aside in the current budget, but that “it seems like money well spent.”

“Given that each (truck) can cost $700,000 to $800,000, at least, it’s important to try to construct them properly,” Tracy said.

The Fire Department’s operating budget is just over $697,000, while the Rescue Department has a budget of just over $467,000.

Jordan said the fleet assessment would also help the Fire Department with “potential regionalization down the road.” In the meantime, he said, the study will be crucial in helping the department retain its “excellent (Insurance Services Office) rating,” which is designed to reflect how well it can protect the community.

While the Oct. 1 vote was unanimous, however, Councilor John Egan expressed some misgivings.

“I’m not quite convinced we need to spend money for a consultant to tell us what we need when we’ve been talking about (fire truck) replacement for the last three years,” Egan said.

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