Ottumwa (IA) Fire Chief Says Fire Apparatus is a Burden

A public hearing will be held to consider the possible purchase of a $1 million new aaerial fire apparatus for the Ottumwa Fire Department to replace a fire apparatus that the department’s fire chief said is a burden to the department.

The 1977 American LaFrance snorkel is suffering from several problems, said Fire Chief Tony Miller.

He wants to replace the truck with a 100- or 101-foot platform aerial fire apparatus. That far outstretches the eldest truck’s capabilities, which can only reach 85 feet.

“It cannot reach the top floor of Westgate [Towers], and we have a hard time getting it angled around where we need it to be at the high school,” he said.

The truck does not have a water tank or a water pump, which means anytime it was called out to a fire, one of the department’s six other trucks would have to accompany it in order to pump water to the scene. The department currently has the 1977 American LaFrance Snorkel, a 1996 and a 2005 Pierce, a 1990 Mack Pumper, a 2003 American LaFrance and two 2010 rescue trucks.

The truck is also leaking oil and all of its hydraulic hoses need to be replaced, as they’re cracking and leaking fluid, some of which can be seen coating the truck’s windshield. And it has an open-air cab, which presents a safety risk to the firefighters. Today, all firetrucks are required to have a closed cab.

OFD records show that the 36-year-old firetruck has been on the city’s replacement schedule since at least 1998.

If the council approves the department’s request to purchase a new truck, Miller said the 1977 truck isn’t the only one that would be taken out of service; the 1990 Mack Pumper is also on that list. The 23-year-old truck would then become the main truck for the north side of town, located at the airbase.

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