Debate Stirred by Fire Truck Break Down

Black Mountain town officials are debating whether to replace a fire-truck after its break-down. The cost of replacing aging apparatus would be $1 million.

Officials will be weighing public safety concerns and cost to taxpayers as they decide what to do with a pair of 20-year-old fire trucks that Black Mountain Fire Chief Steve Jones said have become liabilities.

The chief had estimated it would cost $582,000 to replace a 1992 custom pump truck and $375,000 for a 1990 pumper tanker that broke down July 26 on the way to Columbia (SC) where it was going to have its tank replaced. Recently, he has said those prices will likely come down.

One official was stunned by the price tag and claimed it was “outrageous solution.”

Including the two trucks, the fire department currently has 15 vehicles – four pumpers, two tankers, a heavy rescue vehicle, a brush truck, two quick response vehicles, a utility truck, an inspections vehicle, the chief’s vehicle, an all-terrain vehicle, and a utility vehicle.

The fire department’s $1.3 million budget is 18.6 percent of the Town’s overall expenditures. But the fire budget still won’t cover payments on new trucks that could cost $115,000 annually.

Along with the trucks, the chief plans to ask for three new positions at a cost of approximately $150,000 for next year to add to the 19 paid staff and 35 volunteers.

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