Cost of much-needed HFD equipment balloons under Trump tariffs

Updated: Sep. 24, 2019 at 12:59 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Seven Honolulu fire stations are in desperate need of new pumper trucks. But plans to buy them have been derailed for now because the price tag for the trucks have skyrocketed. The central reason: The Trump Administration’s tariffs.

While the Honolulu Fire Department’s engines are made in Pennsylvania, fire officials say part of the reason for the spike in cost is tariffs on materials used to build the trucks.

Fire Capt. Scot Seguirant said last year the pumper trucks were selling for about $800,000 a piece.

But this year’s bids left the department with sticker shock. “They came in higher than what we projected. Approximately $60,000 (more) for each truck,” Seguirant said.

Even with grant money to cover the costs of several trucks, the department is still short about $420,000.

Last week, fire officials met with members of the City Council’s Budget Committee to ask for help ― and explained the reasons behind the budget shortfall.

“If there’s a tariff for any kind of product we’re going to buy, it’s going to cost more,” said Seguirant. “That’s not the only reason the costs of the trucks have gone up, but it’s definitely part of it.”

He says another factor for the price hike is that the manufacturer is now paying its workers more.

In the meantime, the engines the department wants to phase out are between 10 and 15 years old.

“They’re not show queens. They’re work horses," Seguirant said, of the trucks.

With firefighters responding to an average of 150 calls every day, he says replacing those old trucks is crucial to public safety.

“We’re doing very hard work,” said Seguirant. “And the truck itself is working very hard on the incidents. Especially the highrise incidents.”

The City Council is expected to take up the issue sometime in the next few months.

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