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'A Great Day for Columbia,' Mayor Bell says as aerial ladder truck ok'ed

By Ed Waggener

"This is a great day for Columbia," Mayor Pat Bell said following the unanimous vote of the Columbia City Council to accept Sutphen Corporation's bid of $747,605 for an aerial ladder fire truck, as recommended in a committee report presented by Columbia Fire Chief Mike Glasgow.

The motion to buy was made by Council Member Joe Feese, and was seconded by Council Member Charles Grimsley, both of whom served on the seven-member committee which has been studying the bids.

The vote was taken at a Special Called City Council Meeting, which began at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, November 23, 2004, in City Hall. All six council members were present, and also included Joe Moore, Larry Marshall, Louise Hutchison, and Jimmy Harper.

The action followed a presentation by Chief Mike Glasgow, in which he outlined why the Sutphen bid was the best one. The only other bid was $744,000 from KME.

Chief Glasgow was also on the seven-member committee. The committee included Assistant Columbia Fire Department Chief Charles Sparks., Terry Corbin, Dennis Loy, and Assistant Adair County Fire Department Chief William Grider, in addition to Council Members Feese and Grimsley. The committee began its work in March of 2003.

The bids were taken in an online "reversal bidding" system developed by the Kentucky League of Cities. This systems allows bidders to know if they have the low bid, and, if not, to make a lower one if they like.

The truck will be paid for with a $450,000 FEMA grant, with the balance coming from an escrow account started in the Mayor Woodruff Flowers administration in 1986. The account will have some $17,000 left after the purchase is made, Chief Glasgow said. In recent years, the City of Columbia has been putting $25,000 per year into the fund.

Columbia's aerial ladder truck FEMA grant is one of only four nationwide made, Charles Sparks said.

The approval of the City Council was contingent on a stipulation that FEMA's fulfillment of it's commitment of $450,000 would be realized. Assistant City Clerk Carolyn Edwards said that she would begin confirming that the grant would be made by checking online tonight. No problems are anticipated.

The Sutphen truck was chosen after seven demo trucks had come to Columbia.

Among the features Chief Glasgow cited for the superiority of the Sutphen bid were the following:
  • The Sutphen truck will come with a 100-ft ladder. and still be within the $750,000 cap the Council and Fire Department had put on the purchase

  • The Sutphen truck has a rear-platform entry and exit system, which, Glasgow said, will be easier, safer, and faster for the firefighting personnel to use in firefighting and rescue operation

  • The Sutphen model has a center-mounted outrigger system with center controls which provide quicker set-up

  • The Sutphen truck is on a Peterbilt chassis and servicemen will come to Columbia from the Peterbilt factory in Nashville, TN. Service for the other truck would have come from Pennsylvania, and might take much longer

  • The Sutphen ladder complement is side mounted and safer for the firemen

  • The Sutphen truck, with its aluminum ladder complement, is, at 80,000 pounds, 15,000 pounds lighter than the KME truck. "This will reduce wear on tires and brakes," Chief Glasgow said. The competing KME truck could only be outfitted with a steel ladder complement

  • Because of the lighter weight, a 500 gallon water tank can be onboard the Sutphen truck; the best the KME truck could do would be a 300 gallon onboard capacity

  • The Sutphen truck has a better cab lighting system, making the truck safer for the firemen, in the committee's view

  • Sutphen has assured the committee that they can deliver the truck, once the contract is complete, within the six-month framework FEMA demands.
Right now, the primary need for the aerial ladder truck is the possibility of a fire at Lindsey Wilson College. And, should the Adair County Courthouse steeple be ablaze, the aerial ladder truck would be a major asset.

Mayor Bell said that there are two major factors, in addition to present need, which weighed in on the justification process. "First," he said, "Columbia is growing and we may see some high-rise buildings in the future. Secondly, if you look at the financing set-up, we have an additional $450,000 grant to acquire this truck. Without it, we would be needing another pumper truck in the near future, and it could cost the same as the local contribution for this purchase."

Chief Glasgow thanked the Council for the action, and said that he and the local fire departments were planning an open house in about six months when the new fire truck arrives. "The County Fire Department is spending $200,000 to renovated the fire station, and we'll want to show off that and the truck at the same time." The county component, which serves all of Adair County except Columbia and the areas of the Knifley and Breeding Fire Departments, is supported by annual dues from its rural members. The dues fund is paying for the renovation, Glasgow said.

The Adair County Fire Department is headed by Chief Terry Flatt.

This story was posted on 2004-11-23 17:57:08
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