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Detroit — The city’s beleaguered fire department got a shot in the arm Friday with the roll-out of five new trucks to replace aging vehicles that sometimes broke down on the way to fires or were inoperable when they arrived.

Friday’s announcement of the trucks brings the total of new firefighting vehicles this year to 10 — a much-needed influx to the aging fleet, officials said.

“It’s a dramatic upgrade to what we were working with,” said Sgt. Ronald Ward of Engine 1, which received one of the new rigs two weeks ago. “We made the best of what we had, but it’s nice not to have to do that anymore.

“This truck is going to pump as it should, and we can arrive (at fires) without worrying it’ll break down. That’s happened before.”

The 2015 Smeal Spartan pumpers, which sport an Olde English D on the side, cost about $477,000 each, Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Dougherty said. They will go to fire stations throughout the city, he said.

“This will take a lot of pressure off of the fire companies,” Dougherty said. “We’re replacing vehicles that had more than 200,000 miles on them.”

The chassis were built `by Spartan Motors. Each vehicle comes with a bumper-to-bumper warranty — “the best in the business,” Dougherty said.

The problems with Detroit Fire Department vehicles have been well-documented, although city officials say they’re addressing the issues. Last year, $12.8 million was approved to purchase new equipment, with another $9 million added to this year’s budget. The fire department also got $1.8 million for maintenance, from which 15 rigs and the department’s fire boat were repaired.

More equipment will be ordered this fall, including several new engines and possibly ladder trucks. Next year, six new rescue squads with pumpers will be delivered; currently, none of the city’s rescue squads have pumping capability.

The city had no certified ladder trucks 18 months ago; now there are nine, with two more soon to be certified.

“This is a good sign,” Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins said. “It shows the government of this city is looking out for both the citizens and fire fighters ... that their tax dollars are being used to keep them safe.”

The new rigs were custom-built for the city, because the fire stations are not big enough to handle most modern rigs, Jenkins said.

“Our stations are 90 years old on average; they were built for steamer and horse,” he said.

East-side resident Deborah Robinson, 69, was happy to hear the city is investing in new fire-fighting equipment

“They’ve needed new equipment for a long time,” she said. “Any improvement ... I’m all for it.”

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Suburban upgrades

Dearborn, Waterford Township and Lincoln Park will receive funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program.

Dearborn will receive $995,572; the Waterford Regional Fire Department will receive $199,114; and the Lincoln Park Fire Department will receive $6,046. The funds will be used for training programs and updates to equipment and facilities.

Approximately $305 million in Homeland Security grants will be awarded this year.

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