The Port Clinton Fire Department has recently welcomed home their fully refurbished 1999 Smeal fire engine. When it became necessary to decide whether to replace or restore the engine, which has over 10,000 hours of service, Chief Kent Johnson and other firefighters did their homework, researching the costs and benefits of replacing versus refurbishing.
“We are fortunate to have several talented mechanics in our department,” said Johnson. “99 % of the repairs to our equipment we do ourselves.”
The decision to refurbish proved to be a substantial savings for Port Clinton taxpayers. A new fire engine would have cost $425,000, and the total cost for the repairs and enhancements for the Smeal was under $50,000. Repairs and upgrades were completed in Huntsville and Lima and included mechanical, electrical, interior and body work and safety upgrades.
When asked what the department will do with the savings, Chief Johnson replied that there will be more equipment needed to answer increasing demands from the expansion of the airport and annexation and growth in Port Clinton and Portage Township.
It is estimated that the refurbishments to the Smeal will allow it to serve Port Clinton firefighters for another ten years. By all indications, with the way Port Clinton firefighters maintain their equipment, that seems a good bet. Their 1921 Stutz Baby K that is used for parades and special events is one of very few left in the United States, and one of a handful that is still operable.