NEWARK, NJ - The city put its new fire trucks, street sweepers and garbage trucks on display smack dab in the middle of Broad Street today to announce the shiny, new fleet.
The city hasn’t bought new fire trucks in about a decade, so the three new custom-made aerial ladder trucks that can extend 110-feet tall were a focal point of the display. The new fire trucks will be used for the Central, South and West wards.
“These three ladders, they're well equipped and able to reach higher heights, which will assist us to access to the high-rise buildings and the future high-rise buildings that are here to come,” said Newark Fire Chief Rufus Jackson to reporters in front of city hall.
Overall, 46 new vehicles were added to the city’s fire and public works departments.
The new vehicles include seven new hazardous materials fire vehicles, 11 new sanitation dump trucks and nine new street sweepers. Some of the garbage trucks will double as snow plows and salt spreaders to help during the winter months.
The hazmat trucks cost $539,000 and were purchased with a federal Urban Area Security Initiative grant. All the other vehicles were purchased through capital bonds, with the three fire trucks alone costing over $2 million.
The Newark Department of Public Works hasn’t owned vehicles in the past. Instead, the department used trucks from outside vendors. The city anticipates it will save millions by owning the vehicles itself.
"We're thinking ahead,” said Mayor Ras Baraka at the press conference. “And that's why we're doing these things. Because we know the city is growing and we're going to need more equipment, more folks and more resources."
Baraka said the city is still reeling from a $93 million deficit, which made it difficult to buy new vehicles for about 10 years. The mayor explained the city recently received a positive outlook from Moody’s, a global credit rating agency, making it easier to bond for projects like these.
“We still have economic issues, so I don't want people to believe that -- you know -- we're rolling in the dough. We're just not in the same place that we were in,” Baraka said.
Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said he hoped to see the city continu upgrading equipment in the future.
“As far as fire safety, I think today is a testament of that the city is moving forward buying state of the art equipment,” Ambrose said. “As the mayor said, it's probably been since 2009 that equipment was purchased, and I think this needs to happen on a continuous basis.”