By Roz Kohls
DASSEL, MN The Dassel City Council authorized the fire department last Monday to advertise for bids for a new pumper fire truck. If the department buys a truck, it is estimated it will cost nearly $500,000.
If the fire department leases a pumper truck, it will cost $155,000 for a down payment on a $400,000 unit, with annual payments of $55,000 to $60,000 at 4.54 percent for five years. A 10-year lease would have annual payments of $39,000 a year at 4.9 percent, according to Fire Chief Dale Grochow.
The council will decide whether to buy or lease after it sees the bids received.
Grochow and the other fire equipment committee members Kurt Mortenson and DJ Ohm outlined the specifications for the truck they are considering. The department’s current pumper can pump 1,000 gallons of water a minute. The committee wants a truck that can pump 1,500 gallons a minute, Grochow said.
The new truck will have a six-person cab, and be no higher than 11 feet, because while the doors on the fire hall are 12 feet high, the hall’s exhaust system hangs down a few inches. The truck will be 34 feet long, he said.
The committee wants a tip-down rack for the ladder so firefighters don’t have to climb up on the back of the truck to get it, Grochow added.
Committee members worked through the specifications they wanted with a representative from Custom Fire of Osceola, WI, a fire equipment manufacturer. That is where they received the quote for $490,000, Grochow said.
There is a wide variety of pumper trucks available. If the truck is purchased before Jan. 1, when the latest fire protection guidelines take effect, the department can save about $30,000, Grochow estimated.
The fire hall is a little crowded, but it still works, Grochow said. The rescue truck, which the department uses more often, is in good shape.
However, the 1993 pumper the department is replacing is 15 years old, too old to be considered a front line pumper. The department already has had problems with its second pumper, causing it to be shut down for repairs. In the meantime, the department borrowed a pumper from Hutchinson for the three to four days the pumper was being repaired. The tanker is the next unit in line to be replaced, Grochow said.
Also, Grochow was worried about applying for a grant to replace the pumper, because it takes too long,and there’s no guarantee the department will get it, he said.
City Administrator Myles McGrath recommended the fire department make a 15-year plan for replacements. With a 10-year lease, there will be five years to build up funds for the next unit.
“Fifteen years is the right number of years, in my experience,” McGrath said.
Currently there is $240,000 in the capital fund for the fire department, adding that a $500,000 price tag for fire equipment is “gigantic,” McGrath said.
Grochow said the fire department already has a replacement plan with the townships, but agreed that a long-range plan would probably be better.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• declared an emergency situation at the Todd Street mobile home court, so the city can take legal action and access specific sites where water is leaking. Cold weather will freeze the exposed pipes and disrupt water service to the entire court, as well as waste fresh water.
• approved an identity theft prevention policy as required by federal law.
• noted in the water and sewer budgets that it doesn’t appear water rates need to be raised to pay for the water tower. However, the sewer budget shows the city may have to raise sewer rates. City Engineer Chuck DeWolf of Bolton & Menk is working out the details, McGrath said.