Morenci fire dept. seeks used aerial truck 2009.09.30

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

For more than three months Morenci Fire Department members have evaluated the purchase of a used aerial truck from Archbold and now they’re ready to make an offer.

That decision received city council’s blessings Monday night with only one dissenting vote.

If Archbold accepts the offer, Morenci’s department will be the new owners of a nearly 35-year-old vehicle with an 85-foot tower. The truck has had only 130 hours of use over the 35 years that Archbold owned it.

Fire chief Chad Schisler said the department would make two $7,500 payments over the next two years, with money coming from savings, donations and fund-raising, and by deferring a $3,500 purchase of other equipment.

Council member Keith Pennington, who cast the lone “no” vote, admitted it was an excellent price for expensive fire equipment.

“I’m more concerned about the on-going costs,” he said.

Insurance and maintenance would add $3,000 to the department’s budget annually, he said, and repairs would increase that amount.

Archbold used the unit an average of less than four hours a year, he noted, and part of that was for training and testing.

“If Archbold didn’t use it much, how would we?” he asked.

Fire officer Brad Lonis said the truck would be used as a third pumper. There are 65 structures in the city limits where an aerial truck could be used, but if it were used only for that purpose, it would sit unused most of the time, he said.

“We plan to use it,” he added.

Lonis said the truck also contain loose ladders valued at $8,000.

“Archbold’s maintenance program is top notch,” he said. “It’s 35 years old, but it’s practically brand new.”

Lonis and department member Bob Mohr emphasized that the unit would make fire-fighting saver for the crew by keeping them off roofs and by providing addition water.

Schisler said there will have to be an increase on the fire department’s budget to handle the new maintenance and insurance costs.

“We have only one pot,” Pennington responded, “and when we give more to the fire department, it has to come from somewhere else.”

Pennington said the city is already under fire from one township board that thinks the city spends too much on fire protection.

Audience member Shane Sarnac suggested that if the department discovers in the future that necessary funding isn’t available, the truck could be sold to “end the bleeding pretty quickly.”

Pennington voted against making an offer for the purchase and councilor Greg Braun was absent from the meeting.

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