Fire truck purchase delayed

Published 10:27 am Thursday, December 21, 2017

MURFREESBORO – In an almost hour-long discussion, Murfreesboro’s Town Council weighed the pros and cons of potentially purchasing a used ladder truck to replace the current one owned by the town’s Fire Department.

Fire Department officers Harrison Revelle and Jeremy Brittenham presented the proposal to the Council here at the Wednesday, December 13 regular meeting. A few other members of the fire department were in attendance as well.

Revelle began the presentation by updating the council on the status of the current ladder truck, a 1983 open-cab model.

“On May 17, we responded to a mutual aid call,” Revelle explained, “and the truck had a mechanical failure. We ended up having to tow it back, and it’s been out of service ever since.”

Revelle continued to explain the truck had received about $8,000 worth of repairs on the motor already, but a “class-one defect”—the most serious level of defect—needed to be repaired before the truck can be put back into service. That defect is on the front driver side outrigger, not the motor.

Additionally, several smaller repairs needed to be made, and the truck’s annual inspection must be performed as well before it can get back on the road.

The fire department looked into different options because the cost of repairs on an older model fire truck are expensive, particularly because of how difficult it is to acquire the necessary parts. That’s when they discovered a used ladder truck for sale for the price of approximately $45,000.

Similar trucks online, Revelle said, were being sold at around $89,000.

Council member Bill Theodorakis was not happy about having the decision put to the Council on such short notice, especially because they had not been informed before about the class-one default keeping the truck out of service.

“$8,000 to fix the motor in a truck we can’t use?” he questioned. “It doesn’t make sense. We should have been told that six months ago.”

Revelle apologized on behalf of the fire department for the way the information had been handled. He also explained that they had only learned of the ladder truck for sale the week before.

“Last week, [the seller] already had another department with a check in hand. If nothing is done today, it will be sold tomorrow,” Revelle reported. “We’re not here trying to throw a sales pitch. We’re here to give you information. This opportunity doesn’t come very often.”

The truck in question was a 2002 closed-cab model with better safety features, but did not have a pump or a tank on it like the department’s current 1983 model.

The Council continued to discuss and ask questions about the information they were presented with. Mayor Hal Thomas brought up concerns that the expense of purchasing a replacement truck wouldn’t be covered with their current budget.

“Is there any value to the truck,” Theodorakis asked, referring to the town’s current one.

“There is value with it where you can sell it,” Brittenham answered, but added he didn’t have a value estimate at that moment.

Eventually the Council came to the conclusion they would need a certified fire truck mechanic to inspect the replacement ladder truck before they committed to purchasing it. Though the Fire Department had taken the truck for a test drive, they could not say how many repairs needed to be made to get the replacement ready and certified to operate.

During the course of discussion, one member of the Fire Department got in touch with the seller who agreed to wait until Friday for a decision from the town. An inspection of the truck was scheduled for Thursday afternoon with a mechanic familiar with Murfreesboro’s current equipment.

“We didn’t want to forgo an opportunity without informing you all of it first,” Revelle explained again why they were discussing the proposal on such short notice.

The Council finally motioned, somewhat reluctantly, to pursue purchasing the used ladder truck pending good results from Thursday’s inspection.

According to Town Clerk Carolyn Brown on Monday, the inspection uncovered too many repairs that were necessary, so the town will not purchase the truck. The question about what to do to solve the ladder truck issue will remain unanswered for the time being.