by Joni Astrup
The city of Elk River is looking at refurbishing the Elk River Fire Department’s aging aerial ladder truck, rather than replacing it.
The truck, a 1990 model, would cost around $1 million or more to replace with a new one. Refurbishing would cost an estimated $235,000 and extend its working life by about 10 years, according to Fire Chief T. John Cunningham.
“I do know the firefighters would certainly love a new ladder truck —I think we all would,” Cunningham told the City Council during an Aug. 12 budget work session. But he gave firefighters credit for being very conscious of taxpayers’ dollars and the cost of a new fire truck.
The department’s aerial ladder truck has been checked by Pierce Manufacturing, the Wisconsin firm which specializes in fire trucks and also does refurbishings. Cunningham said they took one look at it and remarked about what great condition it is in.
The aerial ladder truck is used about 12 times a year, he said. The fire department doesn’t have a lot of calls that warrant its use, but it is a valuable piece of equipment, he said.
In a lighter moment after the fire truck discussion, Mayor John Dietz presented Cunningham with a toy fire truck.
“Chief, I know you really wanted a new fire truck so this is from the fleet committee and the mayor,” he told Cunningham, as the two men shook hands.