City, township to consider partnership

Thursday, June 14, 2007
City seal

Greencastle city and township officials know they need to work together when it comes to buying equipment for the city fire department.

What they haven't figured out -- in this latest go-around -- is how best to do it.

Topping the list of needs at the fire department is an almost 40-year-old fire truck the fire chief says is costing thousands of dollars in annual upkeep costs and no longer meets safety standards as set forth by the National Fire Protection Association.

Next Monday the group, composed of Mayor Nancy Michael, Greencastle Township Trustee Thelma Bumgardner and her advisory board, along with city council members and fire department officials, will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss the ongoing and future needs of the fire department.

The city has asked Greencastle Township to contribute $275,000, over a period of two years, for the replacement truck with the city chipping in the remaining money. Newgent said a new truck will cost $450,000.

The township pays the city $40,000 per year for fire protection and has a separate fund to pay for fire equipment for GFD. In the past, the township has bought various pieces of equipment for the fire department.

The group met in May but did not make any decisions regarding the request for a new fire truck. They decided to form a subcommittee to discuss this and other long-term needs of the fire department.

Meanwhile, plans to give the fire department's 1986 aerial ladder truck a long-awaited makeover took a decisive step forward Tuesday night with the city council approving a portion of the money for the project.

The three council members in attendance, Mark Hammer, Tom Roach and Russ Evans, voted unanimously to approve a total of $155,000 from the city's cumulative capital fire fund and rainy day fund to pay for a little more than half the cost of the makeover.

The other portion of the total $248,000 project is being paid by DePauw University who, according to Mayor Michael, has agreed to chip in $100,000. Past history shows the ladder truck is a vital tool in handling fires inside university buildings.

University spokesman Ken Owen said the university has a "great relationship" with the fire department and is willing to participate in the project for the safety of the students. He said the money has been approved by the university and could be made available in July.

Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Mace told the Banner Graphic the process to refurbish the aerial truck could begin in July and take up to six months to complete.

A company in Tipton that specializes in the refurbishment of fire equipment, called Renewed Perform-ance Inc. RPI, will do the work.

Residents in Greencastle need not worry about a lack of fire protection during the makeover, Mace said. The city will be supplied with a replacement truck while the refurbishing of the other truck is taking place.

The list of repairs and additions to the truck is long and includes rewiring the electrical system, replacing seats and adding new seatbelts to meet current safety codes, rebuilding the hydraulics on the ladder and replacing cables and guides, replacing the emergency lights and the fuse box, to be followed up with repainting the entire truck.

Fire Chief Bill Newgent said, during a May meeting at the firehouse, that it would cost about $1 million to buy a new truck, so he feels refurbishing the current truck is the best option.

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