Hillsboro buys new fire truck

By Don Ratzlaff
Hillsboro Free Press – April 2, 2014
Submitted by Newz Group Clipping Service – April 28, 2014

Click on photo to view full-size image.

Click on photo to view full-size image.

It took some last minute hustle and a couple of special meetings, but the city of Hillsboro has purchased a used pumper fire truck at a cost of $198,100.

The decision to move ahead with the purchase was made at a special meeting of the Hillsboro City Council last Wednesday.

The proposal was presented the previous day, during a meeting designated as “special” because it had been postponed one week from the designated day.

In a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation to the council at the Tuesday meeting, Fire Chief Ben Steketee said his department and the rural partners had identified two trucks that needed to be replaced: the old rural pumper and the rescue truck the city acquired in recent years from the city of Florence.

Under the provisions of the 2013 fire protection contract between Hillsboro and the city of Lehigh and surrounding townships, $250,000 had been allocated for a new truck.

Steketee said the department’s truck review committee had come up with a plan that could address both needs within the allotted budget.

Part of the plan was to replace the cab and chassis of the rescue truck rather than buy a different truck, which would significantly reduce the cost.

The plan reached the presentation stage after the committee became aware of a 2004 Pierce four-wheel drive pumper truck through Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus in Union Grove, Ala.

Four members of the committee, which included professional mechanics, traveled to Alabama to inspect the vehicle. Several mechanical issues were discovered, but all repairs would be covered within the agreed-upon sale price.

Steketee said during his presentation last Tuesday that the 10-year-old truck had around 80,000 miles on it, but reasonably could be expected to last 25 years and 300,000 miles.

Beyond that, the truck had every option stipulated by township representatives–and many more than that.

Steketee said the truck, under stipulations of the contract, would be brought to an “excellent” rating before being released to a buyer.

Steketee said if built new from the ground up, the truck would cost around $600,000.

The council appeared to be ready to act on the proposal, but the issue became complicated. The company had said they would hold the truck until the end of the day, based on the council’s decision whether to purchase it.

Mayor Delores Dalke said the truck was “wonderful,” but reminded the council that the city’s surrounding partners had strongly stipulated their right to have input regarding major firefighting equipment purchase prior to action.

“They were afraid we would go out and buy stuff without ever talking to them,” Dalke said. “I think they have to have a chance to look at this.”

The fire protection contract calls for the creation of an advisory board for that purpose, but Dalke said she had not appointed the members yet because it had not been an urgent matter–until now.

“I should have done it sooner, but I didn’t know we were going to buy a truck right away,” she said.

A recommendation from Councilor Byron McCarty to go ahead with the purchase died for a lack of a second.

City Administrator Larry Paine then suggested an alternate recommendation to appoint and convene the advisory board as soon as possible, and have it develop a recommendation for the council to consider.

The motion was moved by Councilor Shelby Dirks, seconded by McCarty and passed 3-0.

Dalke then presented her list of advisory board appointees, which the council then ratified.

Members of the advisory board are Dale Klassen and Jim Enns from Risley Township; Ron Matz from Lehigh Township; Clark Wiebe and Jared Jost from Liberty Township and Craig Leppke from Menno Township.

Dalke said she reserved the right to appoint additional members if needed, including one from the city of Lehigh.

Within 24 hours of last Tuesday’s adjournment, the advisory board appointees met, viewed the same presentation from Steketee and formulated a recommendation to purchase the rural pumper truck from Brindlee Mountain.

The council approved the recommendation Wednesday afternoon.

With the number of repairs the company has agreed to make, Steketee said it could be a month or more before the truck is ready for delivery.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster

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