By Veronica Coons
Great Bend Tribune – September 28, 2016
Submitted by Newz Group – September 30, 2016
Hoisington City Council members heard a presentation by Chief Jerry Stricker Monday night, concerning equipment needs of the Hoisington Volunteer Fire Department. But first, he informed the council that all run reports had been filed with the state and were now up to date. During the council’s budgeting process in July, it was learned the reports had not been properly filed with the state due to confusion following a staff transition in the department.
He also provided details about the upcoming Fire Department Open House, an annual event when the public is invited to visit with firefighters, tour the department and view the equipment. This year, the department will offer fire readiness simulations using the safety trailer, which is equipped with a heated door, simulated smoke, and a phone that can call 911, among several other features.
“Our little kids have been learning a lot about fire prevention through simulations like these,” Stricker said. “Adults are getting an enormous amount of education in this also.”
The open house is scheduled for Sunday, October 16 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the fire department. The Barton County Health Department will also be present, providing flu shots to all who need one.
Stricker then reported on equipment needs. He focused primarily on three trucks of varying condition.
“Our main concern at this time is finding a replacement for our pumper that died a few months ago,” he said.
The truck, built 31 years ago in 1985, failed when its motor died while fighting a fire near Boyd in July. The age of the unit has made locating parts for repairs difficult, Stricker reported to the council at an August meeting. It was also noted that the aging tank is filled with sediment and rust. Sandblasting at this point would breach the tank, so it will need to be replaced.
In August, Stricker looked into acquiring a replacement truck from the Forestry Service, but the unit available was determined to be unsuitable for the department’s needs. It would be too large for the existing space available, and the tank it’s equipped with would be too small to be of use.
Council member Travis Sinn asked if Stricker would replace the pumper with a new or a used unit. Stricker stated a new unit would likely be the best bet for the department, and estimated that the cost could be between $300,000 and $350,000. When asked how he proposed the city pay for it, he suggested a lease-purchase option could be arranged, noting that the first payment would not be required for at least a year after contract signing. He also estimated it could be a year-and-a-half before the new unit would be ready to use.
The new truck would fit at the east building, he added. If any other new vehicles are added in the future, at that time the department will need a new building as late model trucks are being built larger, and would not fit width-wise.
City Manager Jonathan Mitchell reminded Stricker and the council that city ordinances required the city to have funds available to cover a lease-purchase prior to a contract being signed, regardless of when payments would start. He stated that if the council chose to go this route, he would need to begin laying the groundwork to acquire that funding, likely from local banks.
Stricker also added two other trucks, a 2.5 ton brush truck and a GMC tanker, would face needed repairs soon. He asked the council to consider allowing the department to rebuild the tank and add a recirculating pump on the brush truck as a winter project, with the potential for grass fires very low during those months. He said the department could use the pumper as a stationary tank if needed. The GMC is functional at this time, but may require more than routine maintenance within the next few years, he added.
Mitchell noted that volunteers work for $9 per call for each ‘wet run’, regardless of how long or under what conditions a fire call my last.
“These guys deserve some good quality equipment to keep them safe,” Stricker said.
Mayor Clayton Williamson instructed Stricker to gather estimates to present at the October 24 city council meeting. No instruction was provided concerning the requested rebuilding of the brush truck.
Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
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