The New Philadelphia Fire Department will soon be replacing another aging response vehicle.
City council this week authorized the purchase of a Pierce ladder truck from Atlantic Emergency Solutions for $1.8-million. Fire Chief Jim Parrish says it’s needed to replace their current 1987 model whose hydraulic system has been replaced and flushed out multiple times but still isn’t working properly.
“Two Thursdays go we were doing the practice physical agility for our entrance test, had the ladder up the air. Everyone climbed the ladder. Our last candidate climbed the ladder had an issue and instead of having them climb down we were like, ‘No, no, just retract it, bring it back down.’ It wouldn’t retract. It’s stuck up in the air. They’re stuck up in the air.”
He says unlike other vehicles in the fleet, there’s no backup for the ladder truck, which gives them the ability to fight fires from above. And they can’t always count on neighboring departments that have one to step in and back them up.
“It’s crucial in a community our size. Yes, we have Dover on one side of us. They have a ladder. Uhrichsville has a ladder on the other side of us…It takes one ambulance call in Dover and one ambulance call in Uhrichsville, and we’re not getting those ladders.”
The finance committee chaired by Councilman Kelly Ricklic recommended the purchase, which council members approved on an emergency basis, bypassing the typical three readings. The only no-vote came from Councilwoman Cheryl Ramos who didn’t think they should be rushing into such a big decision.
“Why are we getting this right now and not ahead so we can have the three readings and public participation if there will be? I don’t know that there will be but we have time to get grants and look donations, a down payment.”
Parrish says the truck they’re looking at is a demo model that should be available in around 5 months, compared to two years or more if they ordered a new one. Ricklic didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity.
“In a month and a half this piece of equipment may not be available, and I feel as my lone opinion that I don’t want to take that chance.”
City officials are looking at options for financing the truck and have been offered a 20-year loan with a 4.5-percent interest rate. Parrish says payments will come from the contract money the department gets from Goshen Township, which amounts to around $187,000 annually.