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Russellville approves fire truck purchases

During its Dec. 5 meeting, the Russellville City Council approved a Russellville Fire Department request to purchase two new fire trucks – specifically, Sutphen Heavy Duty Custom Pumpers.

One truck will be paid for from the ARPA fund, and the council authorized advertisement to solicit bids for the lowest interest rate for the purchase of the second truck.

Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell said one of the department’s current trucks is not passing the pump test and can’t be used unless it’s fixed, which he said would cost more than the truck is worth.

“The other truck, we’re using it as a primary at Station One, and it’s a 2004 model,” he explained. “They say 12-15 years is the national standard for a fire truck, then you need to be moving them out and bringing in something new.”

Mansell noted the RFD had formed a committee to consider different types of fire trucks. He said the goal was to select what would be best to protect the people of Russellville, explaining now is a good time for purchasing them, in advance of price increases that will go into effect soon.

Mansell said firefighter health is an additional reason to upgrade to newer trucks.

“Cancer is a leading killer for firemen now, due to having to go in all these house fires and be around all these chemicals that are being released or absorbed into their skin,” he said. In the current trucks, Mansell said the gear is placed near the firefighters, and they breathe in the gases being released.

“When firemen retire, we give them their helmets and let them take them home, but there was a study done 10 years later in one instance, and a retired chief’s helmet still had toxic gas coming off it,” Mansell said.

Anthony White with Southern Fire Apparatuses explained the new trucks have a compartment built outside of the cab to keep all the gear housed, as well as the pump controls, to put more distance between the firefighters and harmful gases coming from the gear.

Mansell emphasized that with Russellville’s department’s relatively small size, when they arrive on a scene, everybody is going inside to fight the fire, and it’s crucial that the pumper trucks operate – unsupervised – at optimum levels.

“Having something that’s dependable and reliable now is so important because when we get on the scene, we set the pumps up and hope and pray the truck stays running while we’re inside fighting fire,” he added.

Mansell explained the new trucks are the type the Florence Fire Department uses.

“We looked at a bunch of fire trucks and talked to the guys over there, and they love them,” he said. “They even have a mechanic that works on them over there, and they said we could probably borrow him if something happened in the future.” Mansell said having a mechanic that close “means a whole lot.”

Russellville Mayor David Grissom said ordering the trucks now comes “just ahead of an 8 percent increase, which is scheduled to take place Dec. 15.” Grissom explained it will take an estimated “30-32 months” to get the trucks.

In other business, the council authorized:

  • Renewal of a contract, with an increase, for police chaplain Bobby Brown.
  • Advertisement to let bids for annual street materials for the Russellville Street Department.
  • Hiring of two patrol officers for the Russellville Police Department and advertisement for applications.
  • Abatements of nuisance for 188 Cemetery St., 708 Burgess St., 608 Filmore St., 111 Polk St. and 406 Marion St.

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