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City moves to replace firetruck
Firetruck Eight.jpg
McMinnville Fire Department wants to replace Engine Eight, which is 29 years old and no longer meets national standards.

Persistence paid off Tuesday night as city officials continued deliberations on the purchase of a new firetruck. 

“We need to do this,” said Alderman Zach Sutton, Safety Committee chair, in reference to the purchase of a rescue pumper. “We actually need two, but all I’m asking for is one. Annexation happens by communities wanting to be part of the city. I struggle to know what residential person is going to say, ‘Yeah, I want to go with the city because they have 30-year-old firetrucks.’”

Sutton continued, “We need to support firefighters for their safety, the safety of families, and being able to have the right tools when somebody’s house is on fire. We’ve got some catching up to do. Taxpayers are paying for this department and they should have a department that’s appropriate based on firefighter standards.”

The committee met Tuesday, Aug. 9. 

In June, McMinnville Fire Chief Kendall Mayfield and Capt. Marty White drew attention to the need to purchase a rescue pumper for Station One. 

It would replace Engine Eight, a 1993 LaVerne pumper. At 29 years old, the frontline truck does not meet standards established by the National Fire Protection Association.

Mayfield says given supply chain issues causing extended delivery times, it will be two years between placing the order and firetruck delivery.

Requested by the Fire Department is a Pierce rescue pumper with an estimated cost of $796,000.  

Sutton said two grants are possible, an Upper Cumberland Development District Block Grant and a Federal Emergency Management Agency firefighter grant.

He suggested the city apply for $430,000 from UCDD and $366,000 from FEMA. FEMA requires a 5% match. 

Said Alderman Everett Brock, “I really have a problem with committing before we get a grant. If we don’t get that grant, then we are paying $800,000 out of our pocket.”

Sutton replied, “I would love to be able to convince you that we need to make this purchase regardless. That, ultimately, is where I am. This is a need for the department. We need this firetruck. It would be excellent if we could get it for $18,300. If we don’t, I still feel like this firetruck is needed.”

“I can’t wrap my head around this,” said Brock. “I do think it’s needed, but we need to look at the numbers and if we can get the grants, even if we only got the one grant.” 

The city began its 2022-23 fiscal year on July 1 with $7.4 million in its fund balance and has a projected ending fund balance of $6.6 million on June 30, 2023. 

“We had an excellent budget year last year,” said Sutton. “We’ve got cash flow. This is the time to set this money aside in capital budgets.”

Brock asked, “Before we do that, can we find out if there’s a cancelation fee six months out or nine months out?”

Alderman Rachel Kirby said, “I think that’s a legitimate question to find out if there’s a cancelation clause.” 

“It’s just a way out, if we wanted it,” said Brock. 

Sutton made a motion to pass the measure onto the full Board of Mayor and Aldermen with a requirement that the question regarding cancelation be answered by that time. 

The vote ended 3-0 in favor of sending the purchase of a new firetruck to the full board for consideration. Voting in favor were Sutton, Everett Brock and Sally Brock.