Selma Fire Chief Phillip McDaniel says the town-owned department is in need of a new ladder truck.
The department purchased their only ladder truck in 1991 and since then has been the “workhorse of the fleet” McDaniel told Selma Town Board members during a fleet status update on May 9th.
However, the ladder truck is 26 years old and in the last 4 years maintenance costs have exceeded $51,000.
In addition, the oldest of 3 fire engines, a 1984 EEI is now an “antique and is ready for parades” he added.
The fire department does have a 2011 Pierce Sabre and 2005 Pierce Enforcer fire engines that are both in good shape and have no major issues. The department also has a 2001 rescue truck which responses to motor vehicle accidents and rescue incidents which is also in good condition.
McDaniel said the problem is the current ladder truck is becoming a major expense to keep in operation and parts are not easy to find. The truck was out of service for 3 months in 2016 due to mechanical issues. And the 75 foot ladder is no longer adequate for taller structures being built in and around Selma.
The Selma fire chief said two engines and the ladder truck respond to all structure fires. He would like to see the Town approve the purchase of a new 100 foot ladder truck this year. If ordered by the summer it would not arrive until the 2018-19 fiscal year and the first payment would not be due on the truck until 2019.
McDaniel said some ladder trucks cost up to $1.2 million. He is proposing buying a “no bells and whistles, needs only” truck for around $850,000.
He is also proposing adopting a replacement plan for the fire trucks, with a new engine being purchased every 5 years, and a new ladder truck every 20 years. Smaller trucks like the brush truck and administrative vehicles would be replaced every 10 years.
The Selma Fire Department collects about $156,344 yearly with the County Fire Tax for unincorporated areas of their district. McDaniel said he is not proposing any increase in the 10 cents per $100 valuation in the district this year but a 2 cents increase could bring in an additional $31,268 annually to help pay a portion of the loan for a new ladder truck.
He also suggested local industry may want to donate towards the purchase.
The Selma Town Council took the report under advisement.
Demand for fire and first responder services from the Selma Fire Department continues to steadily grown. In the first 4 months of 2016, the department responded to 318 calls. During the first four months of this year the agency had responded to 400 calls for service, 102 in April alone.