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SHFAD starting to buy needed items with bond funds

 

March 14, 2017



The Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District closed the sale of $1.575 million in bonds Feb. 10 and is in the process of making its first equipment purchases.

District voters approved the six-year $1.575 million bond on May 17. The bond will cost property taxpayers an estimated 31 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. It is outside property tax limitations.

The bond levy replaces a previous levy, approved in 2006, and paid off by the district this year. The district used the previous levy to purchase new apparatus.

Public agencies sell bonds to pay for equipment and building projects. Property tax levies are used to pay back the bonds.

Equipment

The new bond will pay for a variety of equipment needs.

The top of the district’s priority list is new self-contained breathing apparatus, said Battalion Chief Shannon Pettner.

The district has applied for a grant to replace the aging gear and is in a holding pattern while waiting to learn whether it won the grant. The bond will cover the cost of the equipment if not, but if it wins the grant, the district will be able to go deeper into its project list.

According to fire district officials, the district needs 45 sets of SCBA gear, including a spare air pack for each. The cost is approximately $272,000. Its current equipment is nearing the end of its certified lifespan, which is 15 years.

Next on the list are new rescue tools, the “jaws of life,” used to extricate trapped passengers and drivers involved in crashes, Pettner said. The new tools are having difficulty opening newer vehicles.

Four companies have demonstrated new tools, Pettner said, and the district has selected two finalists, which will return March 25 for further demonstrations

Lloyd Rice Towing has donated eight cars this year for the testing, said paramedic Josh Starha.

Vehicles

District personnel are working on new vehicles too, Pettner said. First up is the replacement of Tender 21, a 36-year-old 2,000-gallon tender with a leaky tank located at the Fire Hall, Station 21.

The district is looking for more horsepower and a 3,000-gallon tank, which it can get to rural fires more quickly, safely and efficiently.

The district plans to install a new tank on a military chassis it has already purchased, Pettner said. The bond will pay for the tank, pump and labor to install it, which is currently in the bid process.

Battalion Chief Guy Smith is working on specifications for an ambulance remount, Pettner said. The district planned to replace two ambulances with the bond.

For the first, to save money, Pettner said, it will reuse an existing box taken from a broken-down chassis that has been removed from service.

“It’s a good box,” Pettner said. “We really liked it.”

What the district will do with the rescue vehicles it needs to replace remains under discussion.

“There’s an equipment committee that’s been meeting to discuss what to do with Rescue 21 and Rescue 25,” Pettner said. “What they’re debating is whether to replace them with two light duty or a medium duty and a light duty.”

The district needs to replace Rescue 21, a 2001 KMW engine purchased used in 2004. It is used as a heavy rescue vehicle. It has an onboard hydraulic pump pre-plumbed for obsolete Phoenix extrication tools. One of two pumps does not work, and one of the hydraulic lines has a major failure.

Rescue 25, a specialty rope-rescue vehicle is a 1993 Ford crew cab pickup with a service box. It is carrying too much weight for its brakes, potentially causing problems on the pass and steep terrain. The vehicle’s alternator cannot keep up with the draw on the battery for its electrical system to function, resulting in Rescue 25 dying on scene if the lights are left on.

“That may be something we put off for awhile while we’re taking care of other projects,” Pettner said. “Ultimately, the committee will make that decision.”

Smith is starting to work on a new incident command vehicle for the battalion chiefs, Pettner said. The three battalion chiefs have been driving a used brush rig for the past couple of years as a temporary replacement for the old red Dodge.

“It’s a great brush rig, but the problem is that’s the vehicle that responds to more calls than any other apparatus,” Pettner said. It responds to nearly every call and is usually first on scene to crashes and fires, so it needs to be versatile, with an air pack, a small tank and pump, a heart monitor and other emergency response equipment.

The current vehicle has a manual transmission, Pettner said, and that can make it difficult for a driver to run the siren, make calls, use maps and use the radio.

“It needs to just be a brush rig and not a command vehicle,” she said.

The district will purchase the new incident command vehicle after the tender and ambulance, Pettner said, then the battalion chiefs will get together and decide what they want.

A second ambulance will be purchased toward the end of the bond purchasing cycle, the third year of the bond.

Buildings

Buildings are the third area the bond will address.

First up will be construction of a new bay at Station 22, Foster, said Fire Chief Dave Barringer. The station has three vehicles and needs a third bay.

At the Fire Hall, Station 21, the bond will remodel the living quarters and kitchen, Barringer said.

Heather Harris Design, owned by Heather Harris, who is married to Battalion Chief Eli Harris, is donating plans for the construction projects. Stability Engineering of Corvallis has donated engineering for the projects.

The final major building project will be a new building with additional vehicle bays at the Fire Hall. The district will use bond funds to pay for half of the building. The Volunteer Firefighters Association is planning to pay for the other half and is in the process of planning fund-raising for the project.

 
 
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