NEW BEDFORD - The mayor and Fire Chief were like children on Christmas morning as they showed off their new toys on Thursday. Except these weren't plastic fire trucks under the tree, they're the real deal that will help save more lives in the future.

Mayor Jon Mitchell joined Fire Chief Michael Gomes at Fire Station 5 in the city's far north end to unveil the New Bedford Fire Department's new fire engines, and spoke about the importance of modernizing the fleet of emergency response vehicles throughout the Whaling City.

The two new engines are 2017 Pierce Arrow XTs and are the most technologically advanced the department has seen. They feature a pumping system that can pump water from an open body of water like a lake or river through the fire truck and out of the hose attached to it. The engines also feature larger and more accessible cabins, an improved lighting system, and were galvanized to reduce the effect of corrosion.

"We're replacing two of our apparatus, two of our older pieces, which gives us increased reliability and increased capability from what we had. The engines here we're replacing are from 1994 and 2002," Fire Chief Michael Gomes said.

The Fire Chief continued to explain the department's initiative to modernize its' equipment across the city, lowering the average age of the full NBFD fleet from 14 years old in 2012 to an average of 8.5 years old today. Since 2013, five of the 10 engines on the frontline fleet have been replaced.

“This is a mark of progress. We are investing in the equipment that our firefighters need to keep our residents safe, and we're doing it in a way that uses tax payer dollars very efficiently,” Mayor Jon Mitchell said. "This is just another time for us to highlight what we're doing as a city. Our firefighters need modern equipment to do their jobs and the people of our city deserve that."

Tim Dunn/TSM.

Engine 5 will be stationed at Fire Station 5, 3665 Acushnet Avenue. Engine 9 will be stationed at Fire Station 9, 799 Ashley Boulevard. Both engines have water pumps that can process 1,500 gallons-per-minute, significantly more capacity than the ones they are replacing.

The two engines, which cost a total of $620,000 each, were identified by the City as top funding priorities along with other emergency response and public safety vehicles in the biennial Capital Needs Assessment in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The plan was put into action to ensure that high priority investments, like updating public safety vehicles, receive public funding that in a cost-effective manner for the City.

Station 5 Captain Mike Eugenio says he's proud that the station can add a frontline piece of equipment to best serve the people of the far north end. He also says that the new apparatus will increase their effectiveness and response time.

“It will increase our effectiveness and certainly our response time,” said Captain Eugenio. “Our old piece didn't have great lighting and this one has excellent lighting, louder horns, and sirens. We're going to get there quicker and when we get there we'll have more efficient equipment to get the job done.”