Marked Tree council approves fire truck purchase at special meeting

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Marked Tree City Council met for a special called meeting Thursday, March 3, to discuss purchasing a new fire truck after the transmission went out on one of the city's fire trucks.

Fire Chief Jamie McCrary told the council this is the fourth time the truck's transmission has gone out. Alderman Jason Gilbert--who was sworn in at the beginning of the meeting and was approved last month by the council to replace Alderman Michael Scott, who resigned--said the fire truck is obsolete and parts are not easily available for it. Alderman Cleo Johnson asked if it could be fixed. Gilbert said it could but would probably go out again.

McCrary said the truck barely sqeezed by on last year's pump test. The estimate for repairing the transmission was $10,285, and an estimate on pump repair and valve repair was $6,500, for a total of $16,785. However, McCrary pointed out that they won't know the actual cost until they get inside the truck and look at the pump. "The truck is 29 years old, and nothing has ever been done to the pump before," McCrary said. "It would cost $30,000 if the pump has to be replaced."

McCrary then presented the council with information on a fire truck Marion has for sale which is in great shape. The truck is a 1997 Ferrara fire truck. He said this truck had a new pump put on it two years ago and passed its pump test last week with flying colors. The truck is also an automatic, whereas Marked Tree's is a manual. The new truck is a 1,250 gallon a minute pumper while the old one is a 1,000 gallon a minute pumper. Marion was originally asking $70,000 for the truck but are willing to sell it to Marked Tree for $45,000.

Before a vote on the ordinance authorizing the purchase, Cleo Johnson questioned why the fire truck purchase was being classed as an emergency while Carver Gym was not. "Why are we spending money on these trucks now and we can't spend money on Carver Gym?" he said.

Alderman Danny Johnson spoke about the importance of the purchase to keep the city's ISO rating down. "When I was on the fire department, we busted our butts to go from a class 7 to a class 5," Danny Johnson said. "We need to do what we can do to keep it and get it lower."

Mayor Mary Ann Arnold said she classed the vote as an emergency because it concerns city safety and pointed out that she and several other people on the council all own real estate the fire department protects.

"Carver gym is important just like the fire truck," Cleo Johnson said.

McCrary also added that the city was very close to lowering its ISO rating from a 5 to a 4 last year, which would make home owners' insurance rates go down. He said with the equipment on Marion's truck, the city would be much closer to lowering the rating.

The ordinance authorizing the $45,000 purchase of the fire truck from Marion was approved along with the emergency clause with a vote of 7-1.

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