The Ottumwa Courier


July 15, 2013

Fire chief: Eldest fire truck a burden on department


OFD records show that the 36-year-old firetruck has been on the city's replacement schedule since at least 1998.

"For whatever reason, and I don't really have one, it keeps getting pushed back and back and back," he said. "My guess is it's financial. One million dollars is a lot of money. I had a list of reasons why we need it, but $1 million is $1 million. But it's at the point now where we need to do something."

Councilman J.R. Richards has expressed frustration that money had not previously been budgeted for a new truck.

"Why has it come to a place where this council has to bond one cent to buy that truck?" Richards said at a previous council meeting. "Why wasn't money set aside over the past 36 years?"

City Administrator Joe Helfenberger said funding "just wasn't lined up for it" in previous years.

"It's come back up that we're looking at trying to shore things up for the fire department," he said. "We had looked for a potential used vehicle but it didn't meet specs at all at this point. We'll continue to try to look at all options, but at this point it looks like that will be the only way we'll be able to meet specs and provide a vehicle."

One of those options, suggested by council members, was to first consider refurbishing the truck instead of buying a brand-new one. But Miller said that's simply not an option.

After speaking with three manufacturers of firetrucks, he was told it would cost $400,000 to $600,000 to update the truck — "and you'd still have a 36-year-old truck," Miller said.

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