Hancock County commissioners say they will help the New Manchester Volunteer Fire Department purchase a new truck, but there may be some strings attached to the assistance.
Commissioners said that state law prohibits them from making loans but that they will give the fire department $50,000 as a grant. The money most likely will come from the commissioners’ special projects fund, Commissioner Jeff Davis said.
“I would consider this to be a bit of an emergency,” he said. “We have a situation we need to address, to clear up the uncertainties out there.”
The fire department lost the use of its 1997 Spartan Metro Star pumper in January following a fatal accident on state Route 8. The truck was responding northbound to a report of a chimney fire, when it was struck by a southbound car carrying three Oak Glen High School students who had just left a basketball game.
All three students were killed, and two firefighters were injured.
The car the teenagers were riding in was totaled, while the fire truck sustained serious damage, especially to the front, right front quarter panel and undercarriage, according to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department accident report.
The fire department is now down to one pumper and is borrowing another one from the Newell department until it replaces the one damaged in the accident.
In May, assistant fire Chief Chad Lamp, president of the New Manchester VFD, wrote to commissioners, asking them for a loan of $50,000. Lamp said the purchase of a new truck would be a “near impossibility” without the county’s help.
Commissioners tabled the request until Thursday, when they agreed to offer the financial assistance in the form of a $50,000 grant. They also left the door open to some form of repayment.
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