Weslaco’s new 23-ton pumper draws attention with unconventional color

WESLACO — Just call her Big Blue.

In this its first few days on the job, the Weslaco Fire Department’s new pumper has already earned some attention thanks to a somewhat unconventional blue color scheme and white striping. Still, fire chief Antonio “Tony” Lopez assured this week that it’s what the fire truck can do that will improve emergency response in the community.

Dubbed as “state-of-the-art,” the 2016 Ferrara Cinder Rescue Pumper measures 36 feet and 5 inches in length and weighs in at 47,102 pounds and 8 ounces. It comes equipped with a 1,750 gallon-per-minute pump, with 1,000-gallon capacity, and is dual-purposed for emergency medical services.

Lopez said the city acquired the truck on a $525,000 lease purchase agreement, which amounts to annual payments of $53,000 for 10 years. The fire chief also noted that the expenditure was funded through the City of Weslaco’s Apparatus Replacement Program, which earmarks 25 percent of in-house EMS revenues — as much as $1.6 million was reported during the last fiscal year — toward such purchases.

After Lopez was named the fire chief in 2015, he conducted an assessment of the department’s resources and fleet, which allowed him to identify a need for several upgrades. In March, for instance, the department purchased 2016 Ford F-450 twin ambulance units on a $340,000 lease purchase.

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