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Perry firefighters kick tires on demo truck

February 21, 2012

PERRY TWP. - Township firefighters tried out the lights, sat in the cab and even took a test drive in a KME pumper truck a salesman drove to the north fire station for a look see Monday night.

What happens next in the department's quest for a new fire truck will be up to the Board of Trustees, which meets at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27.

Chairman Cliff Mix and fellow Trustee Don Kendrick attended the demo session, along with Fiscal Officer Susan Johnston, Fire Chief Bruce Whitcher and the rest of the fire department volunteers. Whitcher invited the trustees to come and look at the demo truck a representative of Warren Fire Equipment delivered for a visit.

Mix said the trustees will need to discuss the situation before making a decision. The KME pumper truck as is would cost $323,000 and was being driven next to a fire department in New York state which was also considering the purchase.

"This is the closest to the one we had spec'd out," Whitcher said, noting there were some differences, such as a smaller cab in the demo truck and less lighting. The price does not include some modifications that would have to be made, such as the installation of shelving and the lettering for the fire department logo and name.

Whitcher said he would also want to pull a chair out behind the driver's seat for an EMS cabinet, indicating the department still plans to find a way to fund the first responder program after their money request was turned down by trustees last week.

He said they're exploring every option they can and even had one woman from an EMS supply company offer to give them what they need at cost to just get started. He said they're also looking into grants for equipment. They had requested $7,267 in the fall from trustees to cover the startup equipment costs for a first responder program.

Trustees said they received a prosecutor's opinion that said they could not use fire levy money for the first responder program because it wasn't part of the description when passed by voters. They also said they didn't have the money in the general fund to cover the cost.

When asked how a fire truck would be funded, Johnston said part of the fire levy money is earmarked each year so if the need arises for a new truck, the money could be available. She didn't know if they would have enough to pay for a new truck since they don't know for sure what the cost would be at this point, but the idea would be to pay for it with levy money.

The fire department has been getting quotes to replace the 1977 pumper truck which Whitcher described last week as a money pit for repairs. He said the truck committee put together some specifications and came up with an estimated cost of $350,000 for a truck.

Whitcher said he would probably prefer to go with the spec'd truck because it would be brand new with a few more bells and whistles than the demo truck.

Besides the 1977 engine pumper, the department's fleet includes another engine pumper, a rescue truck which is shaped like a box truck and holds all the extrication equipment and rescue equipment, a tanker truck and a grass truck pickup. One engine and the tanker truck are kept at the south station off of Depot Road while the rest are kept at the north station off of state Route 45.

The department is made up all volunteers who get paid nothing when they respond to a call.

"We do it for the residents," he said.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at



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