Josh Lewis, the secretary of Mountainair Fire Department (MFD), is providing a tour of MFD's new truck. Lewis explains that the truck is known as a “pumper-tanker.”Lewis describes the difference between different fire trucks. Tankers, he explains, carry water to a fire. Pumpers pump water or foam into “attack hoses” used to fight fires. A pumper-tanker, therefore, does both. Lewis says that the new truck can provide both water and chemical foam. Lewis explains that foam is especially useful in fighting automobile fires in the current age of electric cars. Lewis points out a piece of equipment that looks like a massive deflated balloon within a metal cage. He says that it is known as a pumpkin. The new fire truck, with its 3,033-gallon capacity tank, can fill up a batch of pumpkins for firefighting, depart to fill its tank up again, and return to repeat the process, meaning that there is no delay in fighting the fire because of having to refill the tanker-pumper’s tank. Those fighting the fire can draw water from the pumpkins.
“This is actually the seventh truck [we tried to buy],” Lewis explained. The first company that Lewis approached, he explained, did not take him seriously as a buyer of a truck that they offered for $1.2 million. With subsequent companies, Lewis experienced sellers deciding to sell fire trucks that were earmarked for MFD to other buyers, and bureaucratic obstacles created due to working with the New Mexico Finance Authority for financing. Lewis said it took the New Mexico Finance Authority from November 2022 till April 2023 to approve financing for the fire truck.
The final purchase price of the pumper-tanker was roughly $400,000. Lewis said that Ramona Vickery, Chief Phillip Nelson, Josh Archuleta, Mayor Peter Nieto, the Mountainair Town Council, and Town Clerk Dennis Fulfer were essential in the purchase process that MFD went through before Lewis and Josh Archuleta flew to Minnesota to pick up the truck. Still, Lewis thought financing the purchase could be improved. “Five months to get $400,000. … I get [ensuring the] legality of things but there’s got to be an easier process. … I understand we’re in a post-COVID world where it takes an extraordinary amount of time to get things nowadays, but a 24 to 36-month timeline on a truck? That’s ridiculous.” By comparison, one could consider how quickly financing decisions are made by auto dealerships when selling to individual customers.
Correction: Lewis is the secretary of the Mountainair Fire Department, not the Assistant Fire Chief.