Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

The Elgin City Council unanimously backed almost $1 million in purchases for the Elgin Fire Department, including a new fire engine, 11 tablet computers used in the field, and 65 breathing apparatus.

The contract for the new E-ONE fire engine is set to be $505,385. However, its terms offer a $10,000 trade-in allowance for an existing KME engine and a $9,271 discount for prepayment, reducing the actual purchase to $486,114. Money from the city’s share of Grand Victoria Casino taxes will be used to pay for the new engine, which will replace one that is 14-years-old and that has maintenance repair costs that exceed its trade-in worth.

“We keep that engine in reserve at Station 6,” Elgin Fire Chief Dave Schmidt said on Friday. “But with routine maintenance of vehicles and repairs, about 40 percent of the year we’re using a reserve.”

As recently at Jan. 20, the old vehicle had about 59,000 miles and had been outsourced for brake work and diesel repair, with the cost for such estimated at $4,000 – $5,000. Repairs over time have amounted to more than $41,000, thus far, with the estimated trade-in value for the engine at $10,000 to $15,000.

The new engine will be very similar to one Elgin purchased in 2015 that is being used at Station 5 and kept at Station 2 along Big Timber Road, Schmidt said. A difference is the new unit will have an LED light tower to illuminate nighttime incidents.

The price is a result of a contract former Chief John Fahy negotiated with Fire Service, Inc. for the 2015 purchase, which gave the department what amounts to a 4.5 percent price break and a savings of about $25,000.

The new hose bed is lower and the step on the back of the truck is wider than on other engines, making it easier and safer for firefighters to stand on it.

The ladder will be in a compartment instead of exposed to the elements and on top of the engine. The 2015 purchase and the new engine also have more storage space than other engines and can hold extrication equipment.

Perhaps the biggest advantage is that the design of the compartment for holding advance life support medical equipment allows firefighters to access it once they are outside the vehicle, instead of having it inside.

Schmidt said once the contract is signed later this month, it will take about 11 months to get the new engine. With the improving economy, E-ONE has seen an increasing number of orders, including one from Boston for more than 35 vehicles.

The council also approved the purchase of 11 Getac brand tablet computers to replace Panasonic models purchased in 2012 for use in fire inspections and patient care. The Getac units have solid state hard drives.

The final purchase moved along Wednesday was for 65 self-contained breathing apparatus and related equipment from Air One Equipment for $415,712.

The gear is Bluetooth enabled to make it easier for firefighters to verbally communicate and come with exterior amplified speakers worn on shoulders, as well. Another feature are buddy lights that can be seen from most directions and indicate critical air supply information.

Once the contract is signed, Schmidt said all items ordered from Air One Equipment should be in use by June or July.

thanks Dan, Dennis, & Scott