Signaling a continued transition to dual ownership of its shared equipment, the City of Memphis and the Scotland County Rural Fire Protection Corporation recently reached an agreement in principal to split the purchase price of a fire truck to replace the city’s truck that was destroyed in a traffic accident this summer.
Representatives of the City Council met with the governing board of the rural fire department as well as volunteer firemen on July 19th at the fire station to discuss plans to replace the 1974 Chevy C-65 truck while also laying the groundwork for continued cooperation for future projects, including the possibility of remodeling, expanding or replacing the fire station.
City representatives indicated that insurance coverage on the destroyed fire truck recouped roughly $20,000.
The municipal fire department fund is financed in large part through personal property taxes in the city. Combined with special financial institution and utilities taxes, the average annual revenue for the fire department fund is roughly $25,000.
Annual disbursements average approximately $15,000, mostly for insurance, fuel and various supplies and equipment repairs.
With a current balance of roughly $125,000, which includes the recent insurance reimbursements, the city officials indicated a willingness to partner with the rural fire department to each expend up to $40,000 to allow for the combined purchase price of $80,000 for a truck to replace the 1974 Chevy C-65 City truck that was destroyed.
Members of the rural board reported a similar financial situation, with approximately $100,000 in reserves.
While the truck purchase will cut into the balances for both entities, all were in agreement that funding still exists to consider upgrades to the fire station.
With the size of fire trucks continually increasing, the local departments market for available trucks continues to shrink due to limitations of the existing fire station, in particular the door heights, in addition to the building’s depth.
Initial discussions were had regarding the feasibility of renovating the existing building to install larger doors. Other options included a possible expansion of the auxiliary building, located south of the firehouse. The building, formerly a service station, offers larger bays, with taller doors. Discussions centered on the possibility of extending the building north, to lengthen the two bays for larger trucks.
City officials presented initial cost estimates of roughly $60,000 to construct a new two-bay fire station building.
Discussions also were had regarding the looming need to replace other fire trucks in the fleet.
The newest fire truck in the fleet is the “New Mini-Pumper” which was purchased in 2008. The “New Rural truck” an M2 Freightliner purchased with Homeland Security Grant Funds in 2004 is now 13 years old. The year before, the city and the rural department teamed up with the firemen to purchase the Rescue Unit in 2003. The truck houses all of the extrication equipment for traffic accidents as well as a majority of the auxiliary tools deployed by the fire departments.
The fleet also includes a 1983 Chevy C-70 and a 1979 Chevy C-65, each with 1,000 gallon tanks; and a 1983 Chevy C-30, known as the old mini-pumper, with a 250 gallon tank.
Faced with the need for changes at the fire station and the likelihood of additional truck upgrades in the near future, the groups discussed ways to increase revenues.
City officials indicated it is monitoring the results of the recent addition of the Use Tax and is pleased with the amounts the program is generating on internet sales and other areas that had previously avoided local sales tax collection. Initial talks were had of earmarking this revenue for the fire department fund.
The rural board voted at the meeting to increase its annual residential membership renewal dues from $30 to $40, with a new membership increasing from $50 to $60. The measure was unanimously approved to become effective July 20th.