Harrison’s downtown Fire Department will ask voters to pass a referendum to finance more than half of the costs of a new ladder truck, replacing its current ladder truck which is more than 20 years old.
On Tuesday, Feb. 7, Fire District 2, which encompasses most of Harrison south of Interstate 287, will hold a referendum for $800,000 to cover most of the $1.5 million needed to buy a new truck. The rest would come from the district’s apparatus reserve funds.
The department plans to replace its 1994 Stuphen ladder truck, called Tower Ladder 24, with a new Seagrave 95-foot aerial ladder truck with a six-person cabin. The department’s current ladder truck is the only machine in the fleet that was not manufactured by Seagrave.
That truck, now 23 years old, is expensive for the district to maintain, according to fire Chief John Masciola. “The amount of money we spend in repairs every year on this truck is just astronomical,” he said, estimating that the department had spent about $130,000 to repair and preserve the rig within the last several years. He compared that to the original cost of the apparatus, which he estimated was between $500,000 and $600,000.
The cost of ladder trucks has increased in the last two decades, however.
Masciola said that from the time the bond is issued and the order is placed, it could take between nine months and a year for the manufacturer to construct and deliver the new machine.
According to the fire chief, once the department receives the new truck, it will look to sell the 23-year-old Stuphen rather than storing it as a reserve.
Masciola said that for now, that truck is in good shape and is not a hazard to the community.
“It’s passed all of its tests and the required stuff, but because of the amount of calls that we do, we don’t want to take any chances,” he told the Review. “Especially with all the new buildings going up in town, we want to make sure that the equipment is protecting all the residents.”
The referendum vote will be held on Feb. 7 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. and is open to all registered voters in that district, as the bond would be repaid only by taxes recouped from that district.
Fire District 2 has a budget of $4.15 million for fiscal year 2017, which partially funds the 12 professional firefighters who supplement the volunteer force. A portion of that budget—$16,400 this year—is allocated to service the district’s debt; and the department has also contributed $50,000 for its reserve fund this year.