Wrecked Erin (TN) Fire Apparatus May Actually Benefit Residents

An Erin (TN) fire truck that was wrecked in a ditch on Rocky Hollow Road may ultimately benefit city residents with lower homeowners insurance premiums through insurance payoff and political changes.

Erin Fire Chief Danny Warren told members of the Erin Board of Mayor and Aldermen on March 11 the fire truck, which crashed Feb. 19 en route to assist county firefighters with a call, had been declared a total loss by the city’s insurance company. The payoff would be $60,595.

However, Warren said the insurance company offered that the city could keep the wrecked truck for $2,000, which the chief recommended because the engine and transmission had fewer than 1,200 hours and about 15,000 miles of use. He added that he had been offered $6,000 just for the engine.

“I think it’s worth the $2,000 investment to keep it,” he told board members, adding later that the engine and transmission would likely sell for a total of $10,000.

Additionally, the chief said the tires, which are estimated to be worth $1,200, and rims could be changed out on to another fire truck.
Warren said he had found a suitable replacement fire truck, which has an “aerial apparatus,” at a cost of $55,000.

While the vehicle is not a “true ladder truck,” it is equipped with a 50-foot ladder that would be used for rescues, he said.

“There’s nothing in the county that tall,” remarked Alderman Gary Taylor.

The chief agreed and said such a truck would add significant points toward the city’s ISO rating.

The Insurance Services Office (ISO) has a system for determining the price of fire insurance in a particular area through a 1 to 10 classification. Several factors, such as a fire department’s coverage area, response times, equipment and training, are considered in assigning a rating to a community.

Lowering the ISO rating, which insurance companies use to set premiums, can save homeowners money.

Erin’s ISO is 6 and the chief hopes improvements in the department will drop the rating to 5.

Warren also had asked for permission to request bids for air tanks and breathing packs for firefighters.

He said during a non-voting informational meeting that the department’s current air packs meet 1997 standards but during a 2012 fatal house fire in Erin, two of three firefighters using the equipment suffered smoke inhalation.

The chief said 11 of 32 air packs have failed testing, and with 15 volunteer firefighters on the roster, each need air packs and at least two refillable air tanks.

Warren is looking to buy refurbished units that have been upgraded to 2002 specifications, which haven’t changed much through today. The carbon-fiber bottles “weigh a fraction of the steel tanks,” he said, and added that the bottles’ shape is rounded at the top to allow better maneuverability in tight spaces.

He said 20 air bottles and 10 air packs are needed. Quotes for the equipment have ranged from $14,000 to $17,000.

The chief said he had applied for grants to pay for the equipment but was denied because not all money was spent from a $118,000 grant awarded several years ago.

In order to help pay for the air packs and bottles, Warren asked the board to change the status of a tanker truck, which was used only once last year, to surplus so he could sell it.

He estimated the truck would bring about $8,000. That amount, in combination with left over insurance proceeds and money gained from salvaging parts of the wrecked fire truck, should cover the cost of air packs and tanks.

Board members unanimously approved all of his requests.

For more information, view www.theleafchronicle.com

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