Members of Northampton Borough Council had a grievance to air at their Dec. 7 meeting, as they looked to find a solution to a problem plaguing the Northampton Fire Department’s ladder truck.

During council’s fire and health report, councilwoman Judy Kutzler announced that the borough’s KME ladder truck was sent for ladder testing and failed the test. Since the testing, Kutzler said, the ladder truck has been out of service.

Northampton Fire Chief Keith Knoblach said the truck failed testing due to a lighting deficiency, as well a problem with the truck’s automatic leveler. Knoblach voiced his frustration with KME Fire Apparatus, a Nesquehoning-based fire truck manufacturer that has been unable to fix the automatic leveling platform for their own truck.

“We’ve been going round and round for the better part of at least a year, maybe a little bit longer about this. It’s kind of funny, I got a phone call, yesterday I believe, from KME and they wanted to know ‘when are you going to send the truck up to get it fixed’ and I laid into them about the platform because—it’s my personal opinion—I don’t think the borough should have to pay for that when we’ve been on them for the better part of a year, almost two years, to fix that,” Knoblach said.

Knoblach said that KME has been unable to fix the automatic leveler, and that the result has been hurting the department. He said the problems with KME have led the department to choose a different manufacturer for a new fire truck.

“For whatever reason, they can’t, and it’s hurting big time, hence the reason we went with a different manufacturer for the new engine,” he said. “Because we weren’t willing to risk these problems again with our friends in Nesquehoning.”

Councilman Edward Pany questioned why the company is unable to fix a truck that they manufactured, to which Knoblach had no concrete answer.

“They made the truck, they should be able to repair it, shouldn’t they?” Pany asked.

“You would hope so wouldn’t you? If you buy a Ford or Chevy you go to a Ford or Chevy dealer and 90 percent of the time they fix your vehicle,” Knoblach said.  

“I can see why you’ve decided to buy your truck from the other organization,” Pany said. “Wise move.”


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