New fire engine can save precious minutesA new fire engine could soon be rolling into Alexandria. At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council voted to call for bids on a new truck that’s estimated to cost between $480,000 and $495,000. Fire Chief Jeff Karrow made the request, noting that it would replace a 1986 Ford pumper truck, Unit 22, that has far outlived its 20-year life expectancy and is now “nickel and diming” the department with constant repair bills.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
A new fire engine could soon be rolling into Alexandria.
At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council voted to call for bids on a new truck that’s estimated to cost between $480,000 and $495,000.
Fire Chief Jeff Karrow made the request, noting that it would replace a 1986 Ford pumper truck, Unit 22, that has far outlived its 20-year life expectancy and is now “nickel and diming” the department with constant repair bills.
The department had to do some budget maneuvering to make sure it has enough money to pay for the truck if the bids come in under estimate.
It will use $148,500 in its equipment fund to come up with the required 30 percent down payment this year. It currently has $363,417 set aside in the fund and will have $488,000 at year’s end when it receives its half of fire protection levies from surrounding townships.
The department also expects to receive about $40,000 for the old truck by selling it outright to a smaller fire department.
Once a bid is accepted, it would take about nine to 18 months to build the engine. The department wouldn’t have to make the final payment until the truck is delivered. Under state law, the department won’t have to pay sales tax.
Karrow said the department takes pride in protecting residents and property in Alexandria and the surrounding community by using up-to-date equipment and this new truck fits in with that goal.
The new truck will have room for four firefighters, allowing two to stay with the rig while the other two battle a fire, Karrow said. The old unit, he said, only has room for three and, according to firefighting procedures, they have to wait for more firefighters to arrive before they can begin battling a fire in pairs.
Those extra minutes can be precious in fighting fires.
Karrow said that a few years ago, it took 18 minutes for a floor to collapse during a fire. These days, because of the laminate materials, floors can collapse in just six minutes, Karrow said.
The new truck has several features that will come in handy, including a hopper that will contain a kitty litter-type material that can be easily spread around on wet and icy ground by the truck to prevent slips and falls, Karrow said.
It will also be less noisy, reducing the chances of firefighters experiencing hearing loss.
The truck would be capable of carrying 1,000 gallons of water.
After the council voted 5-0 to call for bids, Mayor Dan Ness, a former fire chief, noted that fire engines typically suffer metal fatigue after 20 years of service. He said that the department has been “living on borrowed time” with Unit 22.
A variety of other issues spiced up Monday’s two-hour meeting. The council:
• Listened to council member Virgil Batesole talk about budget concerns. He said several accounts within the city’s budget are running over the amounts they should be at this time of year. Using a straight-line projection, he said the overruns have a potential of adding up to $517,875 by year’s end.
• Approved a $24,719 bid to install non-slip epoxy flooring at the new Alexandria Police Station parking garage.
• Tabled a decision whether to proceed with an improvement project on Cardinal Lane after residents raised concerns about cost.
• Approved plans for a cancer walk on April 30 that’s being organized by the Alexandria Technical and Community College and Phi Theta Kappa.
• Agreed to allow Shell Oil Company to obtain soil borings and groundwater samples in Martin’s Hope Park where contaminated soils are suspected.
• Approved an annual report from City Assessor Reed Heidelberger.
• Approved a memorandum of understanding with School District 206 about cable TV equipment.
• Called for bids on municipal state aid overlay projects.
• Approved an engineering agreement for a $600,000 reconstruction project on Fillmore Street, between 7th and 9th Avenue.
• Called for bids on two pieces of equipment for the park department – a 2011 Ford F-250 pickup with snowplow and a 2011 John Deere commercial mower.
• Approved a request from assistant city planner Karin Tank to reduce her hours from 40 to 32 in June, July and August.
Watch for follow-up council stories in upcoming issues of the Echo Press.