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Tuesday - March 13, 2018 1:38 am

Campbell fire chief makes case for new pumper truck based on safety, reliability

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The town of Campbell fire chief says the decision about whether the department gets a new fire truck shouldn't be a hard one.

Chief Nate Melby said, while he understands town residents tend to be on the frugal side, the truck his company relies on now is simply unreliable and unsafe for his volunteer firefighters.

"We need some help," Melby said. "If we could keep it in service and keep  it working as long as we could, we would do that. But we have already. (story continues below)

"It's been 36 years. It's supposed to have a life of about 20. We know that we can get a little bit more life out of trucks in our department bc we take really good care of them, but the time has just come."

After years of pushing the town board to replace the truck, the issue goes to voters this April in the form of an advisory referendum.

The plan is to spend up to $500,000 on a new truck. Depending on how it's paid for, however, that could mean payments of as little as $17,000 per year for the town, according to Melby.

Melby says the relic pumper truck from 1982 has rust holes equipment falls out of. It has few places for firefighters to sit inside. It leaks, a lot.

And, if that wasn't enough, the pump doesn't actually pump water sometimes.

"The truck has to pump water to put out fires," Melby said. "Knowing the condition of the pump, it's hard for me, as a fire chief, to knowingly put firefighetters in dangerous situations if I know that the truck has potential to fail."

It hasn't been settled whether the money for a new truck would all be borrowed or whether some of it would come from the town's reserves.

Melby said, depending on how the town board decides on financing, a new truck could cost the town about $3 per resident per year.

Last modified on Tuesday - March 13, 2018 2:01 am
Mitch Reynolds

Mitch Reynolds is the News Director at Midwest Family Broadcasting. He covers the internecine agonies of La Crosse city hall. He really likes basketball.

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