BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST POINT – West Point Fire & Rescue is closing in on the purchase of a new fire truck to replace a couple older units, but Fire Chief Chris Fullenkamp is looking for help in getting past the $300,000 purchase price of the new unit.
The department started fundraising for the truck in 2017 as regular revenues won’t sufficient to cover the cost of the new unit.
We get a millage on the property taxes that is specified toward fire protection. Right now we get .48 per $1,000 assessed valuation. The last three years our budgets averaged just over 60K and expenses have come in at about $51,500 so you’re looking at about $9,000 a year you can put away and that would take a long time to save for a $300,000 truck,” Fullenkamp said.
He said the older trucks, one of which is more than 40 years old, just aren’t capable of servicing the area. Two of the pumps on the trucks wouldn’t pass a recent ISO test and one has a blown engine.
Fullenkamp said he has put in FEMA grants almost every year and the last time he was approved for the federal funds was 2006. He said the department began to replace all the bunker gear in 2013 after going 10 years without replacing any of it.
“We’re pretty much done with that, but that’s something that’s ongoing so we don’t have 30 sets of gear that need replaced.”
He said the department started talking and put out a fundraising letter to start a conversation and that went out in September. Donations were good for the first three weeks, and then another letter went out in December and got another little boost from that.
He said no bids have been taken on the truck but they did put together some estimates around the $300,000.
With the donations, we have about $170,000 and with what the board has we have about $260,000 so we’re close we just need that one final push,” he said.
He said they are looking at new because rural departments don’t look to get rid of trucks after five years.
“New truck, you figure it lasts 25-30 years or you buy a 10-year-old truck and you have it for 10 or 15 years and you’re already putting maintenance in it right away,” Fullenkamp said.
Fullenkamp said the fire department was recently given an improved ISO rating of a 5 from a six due to some improvements to the water lines in West Point and more modern supplies, but he said without replacing the truck there’s a good chance that rating would slip back to a 6. When ISO ratings come down, so do residents’ homeowners insurance rates. The inspection was done in the summer for the first time since 2010.
“In 2010 we called them because they hadn’t been here since 1990. So they came out in 2010 and we had a new truck, the new dispatch was in place, and they dropped us from a 7 to a 6. They are trying to get everyone on a 5 to 7 year rotation so they came back this summer and dropped us to 5, which will go into effect in February.
The improved rating should bring homeowners rates down 7 to 8 percent.
Anyone wishing to help contribute funds can send donations to PO Box 239, West Point, Iowa 52656.