GARY — The city's fire department plans to add five new fire engines to its fleet and could also start construction on a new fire station this year.
The City Council has approved a resolution calling for the appropriation of $2.3 million for the lease/purchase of the engines.
The fire department currently has seven engines that are between 17 and 26 years old and in disrepair, while another three are relatively new, officials said.
According to Fire Chief Paul Bradley, five of the older fire engines will be replaced with the new engines.
His goal is to have 10 fire engines in operation in the city once all the new engines have been delivered and some new firefighters are added to the department.
Bradley said the trucks will be located throughout Gary. He said depending on how the bidding process goes, the first one or two trucks could be delivered in June with the rest delivered by the end of the year.
"It will be a great improvement in coverage for the city," Bradley said.
While it is a large expenditure of money, Bradley said the trucks can last 20 years.
The new fire engines are expected to be paid for over the next seven years through a lease-purchase program. The money would come from fees collected through ambulance runs, according to city officials. Bradley said last year the city had hired a new company that was doing a better job of collecting the fees. Some of the money was used to purchase new ambulances last year.
In addition, the city last year received a $758,044 grant for the purchase of 133 self-contained breathing apparatus devices, which supply oxygen to firefighters when they are battling fires.
Bradley also hopes the fire department can start this year on construction of a new fire station at 4900 Pennsylvania St. to house firefighters who currently are housed at the Calumet Township Multipurpose Center, 1900 W. 41st Ave.
Bradley is hoping the new Fire Station 5 can be completed next year. He thinks the last new fire house in the city was built in the 1990s.
He said the fire department is also in the process of hiring new firefighters for the department. There are currently 182 firefighters in the city and Bradley said he would like to have a force of 200.