OTTUMWA — The time to purchase a new firetruck is now, said Ottumwa's fire chief.
Fire Chief Tony Miller appealed to the City Council this week to secure a new firetruck for the department in order to replace one of its firetrucks that has been in the fleet since 1977.
"Since 1998, it's been on the fleet committee to be replaced, and here we are in 2013," Miller said of the 36-year-old truck. "Now is the time to do it. The cost right now is less than what it was two years ago when we started the project."
Three manufacturers of the 101-foot truck the department wants to purchase said the cost has dropped to less than $1 million, down from the $1.2 million it would have cost two years ago.
"I know that's a lot of money, however it's not $1.2 million," he said. "These truck prices are going to increase 3-6 percent depending on what company we go to. I do know they're going to increase before the end of the year."
If the department can purchase a new truck, Miller said the 36-year-old truck, as well as a 23-year-old reserve truck, would both be removed from the north station.
Councilman Bob Meyers asked if the Ottumwa Fire Department would consider putting one of the two trucks they plan on removing from the north station at the airport in order to more quickly respond to calls on the north side, specifically the Quail Creek area.
"We're already looking at where to put a truck out there," Miller said. "It's not the easiest thing to do because of maintenance, and we would have to leave it out there."
The snorkel on the 36-year-old truck also has a number of safety issues, meaning another truck is needed, as well as additional manpower, every time that snorkel has to be used. The new truck would be able to reach the tallest structure in Ottumwa, Westgate Towers, since the current truck cannot.