One of our readers contacted us earlier this month about a lemon in the Fire Department. The reader regularly drives by the department’s repair facility at 3870 Kearny Villa Rd. and noticed the same fire engine, over and over again.

The city purchased the engine 22 months ago from Crimson Fire, Inc., of Brandon, S.D., for $820,000. The truck was stationed downtown to replace a 15-year-old engine of the fleet. But the truck hasn’t worked as out as planned.

The new fire truck has been out of service for 10 of the past 22 months, department spokesman Lee Swanson said. There have been battery problems, malfunctioning windshield wipers, cracks in the truck’s frame and numerous other problems. Crimson Fire has paid for the repairs but the breakdowns take another truck from the city’s available fleet.

Swanson said the engine was the first purchase the city of San Diego made from Crimson Fire and it “may be the only piece of equipment we ever buy from them.”

Jim Salmi is the chief operating officer for Crimson Fire. Some malfunctions are usual, Salmi said, but not as many as San Diego’s fire truck. Salmi said he doesn’t know why the truck is having so many problems.

“I would say this is on the high end of … where we are,” Salmi said. “It’s certainly not the same [for the company’s other trucks].”


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