DENVER (KDVR) — It’s hurting wallets at the pump and at the grocery store. Now, the FOX31 Problem Solvers are looking into how soaring gas prices are impacting first responders.

When seconds count, cutting down fuel costs isn’t an option.

“This is one thing we can’t skimp on., we won’t skimp on. We won’t miss a call because we can’t get gas,” said John Frank, South Metro Fire’s fleet manager.

South Metro Fire said gas is the department’s top fleet expense, regardless of the price, with massive rigs to fill and keep running on calls.

“Our aerials are just shy of 80,000 pounds running down the road. They have a 65-gallon tank, and we get about three miles to the gallon,” Frank said. “That’s on a good day.”

On Thursday, signs in Denver showed diesel costing $5.60 per gallon.

Denver locks in prices for city fuel

The City and County of Denver has its own fueling stations for city vehicles and has locked the prices it will pay for fuel through a contract with its vendor through the end of 2022.

Here are the locked fuel prices for 2022:

  • Unleaded: $2.3862 a gallon
  • Diesel: $2.554 a gallon

Gallons of fuel utilized by the Denver Fire Department in 2021:

  • Unleaded: 47,762 gallons
  • Diesel: 203,170 gallons

South Metro Fire does not pay fuel tax

South Metro Fire does not have a locked-in fuel contract.

“We are paying the same price that you would pay at the pump as a normal individual buying fuel,” Frank said. “We don’t pay the fuel tax, though, because we are a tax-exempt organization.”

Departments at South Metro try to keep tanks three-quarters full, typically filling up at least once a shift.

“As far as front-line units, we have six big towers, 19 medics, 23 engines,” Frank said. “You know, this year we will probably see over $1 million just in our fuel. So, we just find a way.”