Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas comes early

Well sort of anyway. On Wednesday afternoon I got a call from one of my LT.'s on the FD and he told me that they just found out that we were awarded our FEMA Grant to purchase a new fire truck. Probably doesn't mean much to a common tax payer but getting a new fire truck is a big deal. The grant is for $210,000 and we have to come up with like 5% in matching funds. Fire Trucks are very expensive to say the least. In fact any piece of fire equipment is expensive. A good example is an Air pack or SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus) as we call it sometimes. Just one of these is upwards of $6000. Tuesday night we tested some new nozzles we are thinking about buying. One of those was a portable master stream device which sells for $2500 by itself. $210,000 will not even get us the top of the line model truck. A ladder truck runs upwards of $800,000. So if you ever question paying fire dues or the amount you pay on your property taxes each year, just remember what some of this stuff costs. If we don't have the proper equipment to do our jobs, chances are a house may burn down that could have been saved otherwise or one of our firefighters stands a good chance of getting hurt. Also, the equipment and training of the fire department affects your insurance rating which in turn saves you money.

Back to the truck, when firefighters get a new truck or at this point just know that we are getting one, it's like little boys opening Christmas presents and getting that big toy truck they always wanted. My phone was ringing off the wall on Wednesday as soon as the word came out. It was almost funny because everyone was so excited. So I guess what they say is true, the only difference between men and boys is the size of their toys. Even though we didn't have the truck yet, myself and several others were really excited. After driving a 32 year old truck for 12 years, a new truck is a major Christmas present for me.

The downside to purchasing a new fire truck is the fact that you can't just go out and buy one off the lot. They have to be built to your specs. There are thousands of different options on fire trucks. Tank size, pump size, engine size, cab, number of seats, type of doors, types of generators, top mount pump or side mount....the list goes on and on. So, now that we know we are getting the money, we have to sit down and spec a truck, then take bids from different manufactures. It's a long process and in the past has taken over a year to take delivery of a new truck. Luckily for us, we may be able to tag along with Little Rock on some new engines. They have already put in service several new Pierce Contenders and will be doing another order soon so we may spec a truck the same as theirs which will get us a quicker delivery time and a discounted price. So, next week we start the spec'ing or probably arguing over what everyone wants. All I know is that hopefully in about 6 months or less, I will be Captain on a brand new pretty red truck!

I have to thank FEMA and the Fire Grants for making the money available for this purchase. Also LT Feagan and LT Darr for writing the grant on the truck. We have been blessed so far in that everything we have asked for in a grant, we have gotten. This is tax dollars being used wisely to make everyone safer in the country.

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