The Clarkfield Fire Department approached the Clarkfield City Council on Tuesday, August 20 looking for some direction as they investigate the replacement of what they call their “rescue rig”.
The fire department's current rescue rig is a 1990 Ford Custom Super Duty and Fire Chief Francis Staab explained to the council that the vehicle has been difficult to maintain and increasingly unreliable. “We've taken it in several times to replace the alternator and batteries, but we still have to leave it connected to a battery charger to make sure it will start when we have a call,” said Staab. “One time we couldn't get it started to go on a call. It's gotten to the point where all the new equipment loaded into it makes it lean—no matter how it's loaded... The last thing I want is to have to tell a family we couldn't get there because a truck wouldn't start.”
Staab, supported by three other firefighters who compose a committee that are investigating the replacement of the rig, called the rig “One of the most important vehicles in our fleet”.
The firefighters presented the council with three possible options to replace the rig. After considering the purchase of a new rig and the possibility of rebuilding a truck the department already owns, the council thought the best course of action would be to investigate the purchase of a used/refurbished rescue rig.
According to the firefighters, the purchase of a completely new rig would cost roughly $325,000. To repurpose a truck they already own could cost as much as $125,000. Meanwhile, a used 1998 International truck furbished as a rescue vehicle—which would fit the department's needs—is listed at $89,000.
Considering the possibility of the city funding part or all of the replacement, city council member Robert Schlenner said, “$89,000 is a lot of money for this little town, whether it's for streets or for the fire department”.
Currently in Clarkfield's general fund there is roughly $12,000 earmarked for the fire department, but Staab explained that generally that money has been used to purchase new equipment like the new JAWs of life device and a thermal imaging camera with the help of fundraising. As of 2012 there was $20,300 in the fire department's vehicle replacement fund. The firefighters expect to sell their current rescue rig for anywhere from $3,000-$10,000.
Now that they have direction the fire department will begin investigating how to fund the purchase of a $89,000 rescue rig. Grants were discussed and Staab said grants for the purchase of new vehicles are rare. The city might also budget for the purchase and Staab said that some departments charge their member townships for vehicle replacement.
2012 audit report
Nancy Aagesen, a CPA with Dana F. Cole & Co., presented the Clarkfield City Council with the city's 2012 audit at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 20.
Page 2 of 2 - Aagesen detailed the city's general fund, water and sewer accounts, special and committed funds. Aagesen stated that recent changes in the accounting process made by City Administrator Scott Weske have greatly improved the tracking of accounts, especially in respect to the water and sewer funds.
The audit found no issues that could be considered to be major noncompliances. The council unanimously approved the audit and it's findings.