Trent Ernst, Editor
With a proposed cost of about $1.3-million, Council was looking to delay purchasing a new ladder truck for the fire department for at least another year or two.
But that, says Fire Chief Matt Treit, is probably not a good idea.
During the most recent maintenance on the Fire Truck, says Chief Treit the service technician discovered some issues with the truck that would be expensive to repair.
According to the maintenance report from Profire, the turntable rotator hydraulic motor is no leaking hydraulic oil into the pump compartment. This will be costly to repair, and poses a fire danger. More serious, though, is the fact that there is leakage in the waterway. This, says the report, “will not be cost effective to repair as all of the packing adjuster glands are cracked. These are made of nylon, and will need to be replaced by brass spanner nuts. This will put the apparatus out of service for a long period of time and prove extremely costly as glands will need to be custom made as parts are no longer available.”
This leak will also pose a risk to personal in winter due to leakage freezing, causing a buildup of ice on ladder and on the ground.
The cost to repair this would be between $20,000 and $25,000 and would mean the ladder truck were out of commission for at least a month.
The truck itself has an estimated value of less than $25,000.
Replacing the ladder truck has been on the budget since 2007, when the current truck hit twenty years of age. According to Treit, in 2011, the District commissioned a Fire Underwriters Survey (FUS), which is used by insurance companies to determine insurance rates within the municipality. The report also provides recommendations for the general improvements in fire protection. “The first recommendation of the report is to replace existing fire apparatus over 20 years of age,” writes Treit in a report to council. “In addition, the FUS also recommends that the TRFD be able to flow at least 3000 imperial gallons of water per minute (IGPM). Currently, the TRFD can only flow 2340 IGPM, but the purchase of a new truck with a larger pump would allow the fire department to meet this goal.”
Council discussed the idea of pushing the purchase of the new fire truck back at a budgeting meeting in early March, and the mayor was upset when notified of the inspection. “That’s a bombshell to drop on us,” said Mayor McPherson. “We sat here not two weeks ago and talked about it. If we are spending that much on a fire truck, it might change our opinion on some of the other things in the budget.”
Accountant Clive Freundlich says it may not be as dire as it seems. He says that he has been working with the department heads, looking at proposed capital spending. “We rated the priorities of these items” says Freundlich. “If we move everything that is a lower priority, that’s a significant amount that we can move off of this year’s budget, about $700,000.”
Treit says a new ladder truck would cost about $1.39 million. While there are probably second-hand trucks that would cost less, finding a truck that fit into the fire hall would be difficult, as the fire hall here is shorter than most.
Also, buying a shorter ladder truck might save some money, he recommends getting a 100 foot ladder truck, as it will be in service for about 20 years. “At which time it is anticipated that there will be additional construction within the community that will likely include more buildings that are at least three stories in height.”
Treit says that it may be possible to purchase a stock or demonstration truck that has a 100 foot ladder and is small enough to fit our fire hall. These, he says, are trucks that are taken around by the manufacturers to show off their abilities. These trucks are still in top notch shape, but could be purchased for a lower price.
Council is still working through the 2015–2019 Financial Plan. A final decision is expected by mid-May.