FAQ - Last Updated 2/10/15

Water Tender Status Questions:
Matching Grant Related Questions:
General Questions:

What Is The Status Of The Water Tender Purchase? - back to index

The final specifications are being worked out with the selected vendor (Feb 10, 2015). The purchase order will go to the vendor as quickly as possible once those last details are settled. There will be additional updates to this site when the order is placed.

What Is A Matching Grant? - back to index

A matching grant is an offer of money from an individual or organization in which the recipient must raise an equal amount in order to access the grant funds. There are many ways such grants can be structured. In this campaign, each dollar contributed towards the purchase of a new water tender will be matched. Contributions from any source - individuals, company matching grants, direct corporate contributions, etc. - will be matched. If you donate $250, and your employer matches that with another $250, that means an additional $500 will be contributed to the fund by the grant donor, for a total of $1,000 towards the purchase of the new water tender.

How Much Is This Grant? - back to index

Our generous donors have offered us $125,000, or about half of the money we still need to raise. If we can match it, we should be just about done with the campaign.

What Contributions Apply Towards This Grant? - back to index

All contributions of any type received between Nov 15, 2014 and Feb 28, 2015 apply and will be matched by this grant.

Who Is LPCF? - back to index

LPCF stands for Loma Prieta Community Foundation. The Loma Prieta Community Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation serving the Loma Prieta community in the Santa Cruz Mountains. They have a Water Tender Fund set up and all monies raised by this drive will be given directly to LPVFR. For more information, please visit: www.lpcf.org

Is LPCF A Non-Profit? - back to index

The Loma Prieta Community Foundation (LPCF) is a charitable, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization​. Their tax id is 77-0001115.

More information about LPCF can be found on their website at www.lpcf.org

How Do I Donate? - back to index

Thanks to the generosity of the Loma Prieta community, the goal has been reached and the purchase of the water tender is happening. If you want to contribute to LPVFR's general fund to help with other expenses, you are welcome to do so from the donations page on their main website. Thank you!

Do You Accept Donations Of Stock? - back to index

LPCF is set up to accept donations of stock and shares. If you are planning to make a relatively substantial contribution, you should consider donating appreciated stock from your investment portfolio instead of cash. Your tax benefits from the donation can be increased. You get a charitable deduction, plus avoiding tax on the appreciation in value of the donated property. For more information, please email info@lpcf.org

What Is A Water Tender? - back to index

A water tender is a specialized vehicle that carries much more water than a standard engine to a fire. Most engines in the Santa Cruz County Fire fleet carry about 500 gallons each. The water tender we are trying to replace carries about 2200 gallons, and newer models can carry 3000 gallons or more.
Water Tender 3651

Why Do We Need To Replace The One We Have? - back to index

Put simply: it's old and worn out. It's 22 years old and frequently needs repair. It's been out of service for well over 120 days so far in 2014. Those regular repairs cost money and take time. And more importantly, while the engine is out of service it isn't available to bring water to a fire.

Also, old engines can break down at exactly the wrong time, putting lives and property at risk. The National Fire Protection Association says the expected lifetime of a water tender is about 15 years. At 22, our existing tender is positively ancient, and it shows in the service record.

Finally, the burden of replacing the water tender is falling on us because there is no money in County Fire's budget to replace it. County Fire has suffered from budget concerns for some years now, and most years the equipment replacement budget is actually empty. As residents directly affected by the presence (and absence!) of the water tender, we're taking matters into our own hands to solve the problem.

Why Does A Water Tender Matter? - back to index

There are 2 major reasons for needing a water tender:

1) They are incredibly useful at a fire. Water isn't something we have readily available in our mountains, even when we're not suffering a drought. As a result, firefighters have to bring water with them. Every engine carries some, but when it's gone, they have to get more. Water tenders help with that process. They move a lot more water around, and provide additional crew whose only job usually winds up being getting water to the scene. That big tank keeps firefighters working on the fire and putting it out before it can spread. Without a tender they have to use engines to shuttle water, and that means it takes 4 or 6 trips to do what one trip with a water tender can do.
One way a water tender is used. Click to see a larger version.

2) A big part of how insurance companies determine insurance rates has to do with how quickly a large volume of water can be delivered to a fire. A water tender is a key part of the infrastructure that helps move large amounts of water to a scene. We need one stationed in our area to help our firefighters put out fires more easily and as part of the fleet that helps keep our insurance rates down.

Aren't There Other Water tenders In The Area? - back to index

Yes but... this gets complicated. Please bear with me:

There are definitely other water tenders in the surrounding fire districts and departments, and they can (and will) come to our assistance through various mutual aid agreements.

But what we really worry about is how much water can we put on a fire quickly. More water - faster - is better. We can definitely get water tenders from all over - and that will happen in a big fire - but the first tender on scene can help stop a fire in its tracks if it arrives early enough. More water means more time putting the fire out rather than finding water sources.

You can be sure that in a really big fire there will be dozens of water tenders working to keep the engines pumping at full tilt, but it can be hours before that fleet of vehicles is present and operating smoothly. On a shorter time frame, tenders from various adjacent fire departments are available, but they still take much more time to arrive than a locally housed and staffed unit.

Having our own water tender is a huge, valuable resource. It cannot be underestimated.

$350,000? Really? That's a lot of money! - back to index

Yes it is. But a new chassis alone can cost $200,000. The detailed specification for the new water tender has yet to be completed, but $350,000 is a good number to work with.

And it is important to remember that this isn't just a big water truck, this is a fire engine with a really big water tank. It also carries medical aid gear, breathing apparatus, rescue equipment, multiple auxiliary pumps and portable tanks, and a fully rated fire pump for either supplying other engines or directly pumping the fire. It's also got multiple drive axles and can take its load off the pavement, getting water to remote areas of the mountains when needed.

There are only about 10 vendors that make fire engines, and they are, sadly, very expensive. A lot of that is due to recognized safety standards that add cost, most of which are mandated by the NFPA.

What Happens If We Can't Raise That Much Money? - back to index

The truth is we cannot let this effort fail as we must have a new water tender. Without it, we're in a world of hurt - insurance related hurt, eventually, if nothing else. It may take some time to raise the money, but the VFD will set up a separate account to save these funds, track them separately, and apply them to the purchase of this apparatus whenever it happens.

If we're lucky, we'll get some other sources of funding that help with this purchase, so even if we don't raise it all, we might raise enough to enable it anyway.

Can We Purchase A Used Water Tender Instead? - back to index

Any used equipment that meets our needs will definitely be considered, but used equipment isn't a likely solution.

First, what we need probably isn't readily available on the used market. Every department has specific needs for their apparatus and finding one that matches our requirements is unlikely. Most used water tenders just won't be configured as we need for our area, in terms of what kind of capacity they have (for gear, not just water). Horsepower and braking capabilities are important too, particularly in our hilly country. We need to be able to get up the hills and even more importantly get back down safely. All that adds money and makes finding a suitable used apparatus less likely.

And it should be pointed out that there probably aren't many "lightly used" water tenders available in any case. Departments rarely purchase the wrong kind of unit and then sell it before the end of its useful lifetime. When you spend that kind of money you try very hard to get it right, or live with the consequences. In our case, if we mess up we won’t have the money to replace it.

What About 2 Smaller Units Instead Of One Large One? - back to index

There are a number of considerations that make this impractical in our case.

First, volunteer departments tend to fluctuate in membership, and many of the members aren't trained drivers. Two units requires two driver operators, which isn't always possible.

Second, LPVFR doesn't currently have a garage for a second water tender. Creating a secure and protected space to store it would be another cost that would likely outweigh any cost savings from buying two smaller tenders.

Beyond that there are technical and cost considerations.

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) decides what is and isn't actually called a water tender. And the insurance companies that set our fire ratings will want to know that some amount of water can get to the scene of a fire quickly. Smaller units might run afoul of both of those issues.

On cost, the problem is that there are only so many makers of water tenders and they are really expensive. It is unlikely we could buy a single smaller unit for substantially less than half the price of a larger unit. Water tenders are all custom made when they are ordered, nothing is simple, and all the specialized configuration (for the equipment that we'd need these tenders to carry) would have to be created twice. While there might be some savings to purchasing two smaller units, there would also be more maintenance, a need for duplicate equipment to be carried on the apparatus, and so on.

While it is true that a smaller tender might be a bit more maneuverable, or specialize in rough terrain, on balance the driver availability and garage issues pretty much make two units impractical in our case. And the technical and cost concerns only make matters more difficult.

Can We Get A Loan For This Purchase? Are Other Sources Of Funding Being Considered? - back to index

Sadly, LPVFR doesn't have a regular source of income to pay off a loan. Instead it lives on donations and support from Santa Cruz County Fire and Cal Fire. The Santa Cruz County Fire budget can't fund the purchase, and there are ongoing concerns about funding of County Fire via CSA 48. Quite a few people are worrying about that issue in various ways.

LPVFR wouldn't qualify for a loan based on donations. And if we have to raise the money to pay it off, we might as well raise the money and buy the new tender directly, saving the cost of the loan.

That said, every avenue of additional funding will be looked into. Grants of various kinds, matching funds from various sources, etc. There is an experienced group of people putting this drive together, and they will leave no stone unturned in trying to find ways to fund this purchase. If there is some reasonable way to do a loan for some or all of it that will be considered as well.

What Will Happen To The Old Water Tender? - back to index

The old water tender will become a reserve tender in County Fire's fleet. That way it can still pitch in should it be both needed and working. It has no residual value and cannot be sold for anything useful. No other department would want to take it on due to the ongoing repairs it needs.