The City Commission on Monday rejected a bid for a new/used ladder truck for firefighters, accepted a bid for in-car video systems for police officers and mandated an invocation and Pledge of Allegiance for future meetings.
Fire Chief David Kramer who has petitioned the Commission for a new fire truck twice before said again that the safety of his firefighters was at stake as well as the department’s ability to respond quickly to any major blaze within the city. A new truck would also allow the city to retain its current fire safety rating. Losing the rating could mean a 22 percent increase in fire insurance costs within the city, Kramer said.
Of the city’s three fire trucks, only the newest meets the requirements for pumping capacity. The water tank on the department’s backup engine, a 1978 model, was recently found to have extensive corrosion. The pump has problems as well. Kramer said estimates for repairing the 33-year-old vehicle are between $33,000 and $38,000.
The city’s third and oldest truck is on loan to the City of Iuka. It has not been tested in years and would almost certainly fail any test, Kramer said.
The best option for replacing the lost pumping capacity is a $120,000 1991 ladder/aerial truck offered for lease-purchase by the City of Lenexa, he added. It has recently been refurbished and even has new tires.
Mayor Jeff Taylor and commissioners Vic Graf and Karen Detwiler were critical of the firefighters’ plan, saying the county’s fire truck compensated for the city’s lack and that the 1978 vehicle could be repaired for a fraction of the cost of the newer vehicle.
Taylor added that he was beginning to see the need for a long-term plan for replacing fire equipment, but that Kramer was offering only one immediate option.
Commissioner Bill Hlavachick, however, said they have been discussing a new fire truck for years.
“In a progressive city of 6,500 like Pratt is I think it’s a shame we don’t have a ladder truck,” he said.
Hlavachick and Commissioner Gary Skaggs voted for the lease-purchase of the Lenexa truck but lost the vote to Taylor, Detwiler and Graf. The Commission voted unanimously to repair the 1978 truck.
In other business, the Commission:
•Approved a $30,365 bid from CopTrax for five in-car video systems that store HD video in secure Microsoft servers “In the Cloud” and also allow GPS tracking of officers and vehicles as well as remote-monitoring of events at the Law Enforcement Center. Other systems only provide video recording. The systems are being purchased with drug forfeiture funds, which accrue when police sell property seized from drug offenders.
•Asked for a cost breakdown of a sidewalk project that could stretch from Stout Street east past Walmart then south to Sixth Street and back west to Sixth Street Park. Grant are one possible funding source.
•Approved a prayer and Pledge of Allegiance before each Commission meeting. Graf, Taylor and Detwiler pressed for the measure while Hlavachick and Skaggs were less enthusiastic about imposing a prayer on the audience. Invocation duties will be rotated among the members of the Commission.