A packed room watched a debate break out between Pontotoc County Commissioners and volunteer firefighters from the Pickett Fire Department.
At a recent commission meeting, the court had unanimously approved a Pickett Volunteer Fire Department request to purchase a new engine to replace its worn-out fire engine.
As a way to save money and in anticipation of future requests from other volunteer fire departments, the court had decided that all such purchases had to be for gasoline-powered engines.
Firefighters from the Pickett Fire Department came to court anxious to state their case to the commissioners for a diesel engine.
Volunteer fire departments around the county receive annual stipends from county taxes set aside specifically for their needs.
When those departments and their boards decide they need new equipment, they submit their specifications to the commissioners, who can either approve or deny their purchase request.
A debate ensued over the dangers of parking a gasoline-powered engine in a field for long periods of time while fighting a fire. Grand explained that catalytic converters required on gasoline engines can and occasionally do start fires of their own.
The gasoline engines are also one reason some fire trucks get stuck in fields and on hills, Grand said. The diesel truck, several argued, has much more torque for getting itself out of trouble.
The commissioners countered by saying that for the county to purchase diesel engines, it would cost more upfront, and that the commission had to think of all of its volunteer fire departments, not just Pickett.
The diesel fire engine would cost an estimated $6,000 to $8,000 more, the commissioners argued.
One member of the audience urged the county not to be “penny-wise and pound-foolish” with this purchase.
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