Concerns with $8 million fire truck investment in Horry County

After several fire departments in the region had issues with new fire trucks from the company KME, Horry County had concerns over its own $8 million purchase from the company.

Myrtle Beach and Augusta Fire Department in Georgia both had issues with purchases from the company KME.

The Augusta Fire Department even considered breaking its contract with the company.

“You’re concerned when you hear that type of problem because you certainly don’t want to invest that kind of money and have those types of problems, but we’ve spoken to KME and our concerns have been answered,” said Ernest Gerrald.

Gerrald is a Division Chief with Horry County Fire Rescue.

The county was able to look at six out of 13 trucks they purchased for $8 million and those trucks had issues.

However, KME is fixing the problems and county officials say it is nothing to worry about.

“There are going to be minor punch out problems, but most of the problems are the usual ones that have to be taken care of for new type of equipment,” said Gerrald.

He says the thing to focus on is not minor issues, but the follow up service KME will provide once the county takes ownership of the trucks.

“Fire trucks are not like pickups or your car where you can take it to the shop and leave it for a week or two. We do not have the equipment to replace that truck if that truck goes down. We’re going to have to replace it with one of the older units until we can get it back up,” said Gerrald.

Some county stations already operate with borrowed trucks and older units; some trucks are 20-years-old.

And if they break down, the parts are no longer made to fix them because they are so outdated.

If the KME trucks break down, and have a long turnaround time for repairs, that can be a problem, and insurance ratings are expected within the next year.

Gerrald says he is confident there will not be any issues.

“By the time they decide to rate us, I feel like we’ll have all our apparatus in place,” he said.

Myrtle Beach officials say they are also confident with KME’s ability to fix their truck’s original issues, and officials with the Augusta Fire Department say they are now working towards fixing their issues with KME.

Horry county fire officials say they expect the full fleet of new trucks next week.



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