Athens (OH) Seeks to Replace Fire Apparatus with University Assistance

The city of Athens is looking to replace a 23-year-old pumper fire truck as soon as possible. At an Athens City Council meeting May 12, council members spoke in support of the need for a new $586,000 truck.

The city currently doesn’t have nearly enough money for the truck, however, according to council members’ discussion at the meeting. And they’ll have to act quickly if they want to get it cheaply; the city will need to put a plan together for a loan and order the truck before July 31 to get a 5 percent discount, council members said.

“I’d say it’s critical to the health, welfare and safety of the citizenry. You can’t afford to have old, outdated equipment, and fire protection is essential,” said City Council member Chris Knisely.

Athens Fire Capt. Bruce Smith said the city runs new pumper trucks as front-line, first-response units for 10 years; any trucks older than that are put into reserve and only used as needed.

Recently appointed Fire Chief Robert Rhymer said one of the department’s two current front-line pumper trucks, 1004, turns 10 years old this year and needs to be put into reserve. That means 1003, the 23-year-old reserve truck, needs to be taken completely out of commission.

“It’s just like anybody’s older vehicle. It just causes future maintenance problems,” Rhymer said. “Is it as reliable as the front-line pumper? No.”

Rhymer said it becomes increasingly expensive to keep and maintain older vehicles. The reserve vehicles are necessary for when the front-line units undergo maintenance, but in keeping with prior policy set by a former fire chief, Rhymer said trucks are generally replaced after 10 years in reserve.

At the May 12 City Council meeting, Knisely said the city still owes around $225,000 on a $1.2 million ladder truck it purchased for the Fire Department in 2012.

The Ohio University administration agreed to give the city $250,000 in aid for the purchase of the ladder truck – of which OU is paying $50,000 in yearly increments. Knisely said the city will look to OU to help supplement the cost of purchasing the new pumper truck, as well.

The Ohio University administration agreed to give the city $250,000 in aid for the purchase of the ladder truck – of which OU is paying $50,000 in yearly increments. Knisely said the city will look to OU to help supplement the cost of purchasing the new pumper truck, as well.

For more information, view www.athensnews.com

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