‘Big Maq’ to be replaced

by newer version aerial


Staff Writer

Sometimes it pays to be patient and look for bargains. 

That effort translated into the Maquoketa Fire Department finding what it considers a great deal on a used aerial truck from a Chicago suburb to replace its current 1985 model.

The Maquoketa City Council last week approved acquiring a 2000 Sutphen 100-foot platform aerial truck for $215,000 to replace “Big Maq,” the current truck the city bought used in 2003. 

“It’s lasted 16 years, and it’s now 34 years old,” Fire Chief Matt Tranel told the council.

He noted that a replacement truck was budgeted for $750,000 in the department’s capital improvement plan (CIP) for the 2023/24 fiscal year. 

“That actually overextended our truck CIP for the fire department and pushed out the replacement of other apparatus further than we’d like to see,” he said. “So we kept our eyes open and stumbled across this one.”

The newer-model truck is made by the same company as the 1985 truck and has basically the same controls, as well as several safety upgrades. That will help make the transition “fairly smooth with minimal operational training requirements,” Tranel said. 

The truck also has more compartments for equipment storage, a hydraulic generator, and a fully enclosed cab. It has just over 24,000 miles and 2,580 engine hours.

“I know we are looking at a 19-year-old truck, but I believe it will get us another 15 years down the road,” Tranel said. 

The truck’s price tag is $200,000. Tires are estimated to cost about $3,000, touch-up paint $1,000, and equipment upgrades $5,000. 

“I think it’s a good choice for the city of Maquoketa,” Tranel said. 

The Carey, Illinois, fire department is selling the truck because it recently bought a new one for $1.1 million, Mayor Don Schwenker said, pointing out the cost of a new truck. A decent used truck can cost close to $800,000, he said. 

“This is a bargain and an upgrade from what we have,” Schwenker said. 

The council also approved $4,813 to upgrade a new squad car for the police department.