Members of the Carlisle Fire Department spoke to the city’s Chamber Commerce during its Monday lunch meeting, seeking business support for the purchase of a new fire truck.
According to Eric Adams, who spoke on behalf of fire chief Derryl Burks, and Chamber president Vic Seidenschwarz, the fire department is in desperate need of a new fire truck and equipment. They said the city council has been putting off purchasing a new truck for years and it is becoming a risk for both residents as well the firemen. With community backing, they said they hope to put pressure of the council to take the need for a new fire truck more seriously.
The newest fire truck was purchased new in 2001.
“If we don’t have the right equipment, it only takes a split second for one of us not to come home,” Seidenschwarz said.
One equipment item Seidenschwarz specifically mentioned being denied by Carlisle Mayor Ray Glover was a new pager system that would send out notifications via text alerts. He said the system would also track the firemen as they were in transport to the station for fire calls. He said this would allow the firemen at the station to know if they should hold off a few minutes before leaving for a call as more volunteers are about to arrive. He said this system would eliminate the need to purchase pagers, saving money. Seidenschwarz estimated start up for the system to be around $1,200.
Another major concern discussed by chamber members was the city’s public protection classification which affects homeowners insurance. According to Seidenschwarz, the fire department is doing everything it can do to maintain a level five rating. He said without proper equipment and water department’s refusal of fire hydrant testing, the city will never improve.
Burks said that while adding the new phone based system is a good idea, he does not plan to do away with the pager system entirely. He said because the program is internet based, the system would be ineffective in the event the internet is down at dispatch. Burks also said firemen, like himself, who work in rural areas during the day may not have phone service to receive fire page outs and therefore he does not plan to do away with the page system all together.
In addition, Burks said he personally has never asked for anything that has been denied by council or mayor, other than a fire truck that he has heard from former chiefs’ that requests were dismissed. Burks took the position as the new fire chief on Jan. 1, replacing Alvin Plafcan.
On Tuesday morning, Carlisle Mayor Ray Glover said he was approached about a new notification system when Marvin Reid was fire chief, but is unfamiliar with the system Seidenschwarz referred to during the meeting.
“I don’t know anything about that,” Glover said. “They didn’t run this by me.”
Glover, who has the authority to approve purchases up to $5,000, said he can not recall any equipment the fire department has ever asked for that has not been approved, with the exception of a new fire truck.
“The fire department is an important part of our city,” Glover said. “I don’t know why they think they are being mistreated. Other than the fire truck, pagers, turn outs.. I’ve always let them have. For the life of me, I can’t think of one thing I have denied the fire department.”
Because of the cost of a fire truck exceeds Glover’s $5,000 limit, the purchase of a new truck is a decision left up to the council. Glover said the city has already begun putting $1,000 back since January 2017 for the purchase of a new fire truck. He said the council has also discussed possibly using the money as a down payment for a new truck, once enough money for a down payment amount is built up.
“We know we need a new fire truck,” Glover said. “But we’ve got to figure out how to pay for it. They’re expensive.”
As for the city’s public protection classification in question, Carlisle is currently rated at a level 5 classification, based on the July 2014 report. They city scored a 59.63 out of 105.5, just shy of the 60 points required to be a class four city. As for the water supply and hydrant scores, the city received a 26.66 out of the possible 40 points. Although the hydrant testing was 5.4 points deducted from the over all 13.33 deduction for the water supply area, another large portion of deductions comes from the fire department training and average number of firefighters able to respond to first alarm structure fires in the city. The department received a 2.67 out of 15 for the company personnel section and a 2.08 out of 9 for the training. Overall for the fire department section of the scoring, they received a 28.75 out of 50.
Two other areas down in the report were the emergency reporting area and the community risk reduction area. The emergency reporting area which includes how the department receives and handles fire alarms, received a 4.47 out of 10 . The community risk reduction area, which includes public safety education, fire prevention and code enforcement as well as fire investigation programs, received a 1.58 out of 5.50.
According to Burks, the fire department is working to improve the areas lacking by the fire department. He said the training score was down due to unkempt records, which has been corrected. He said the department is also working to receive the 0.50 score available for a service truck, which they city did not receive a score on during the previous inspection.
The Carlisle Fire Department meets at 7 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of the month.
The next Chamber of Commerce meeting will be at noon on Aug. 14 in the Civic Center. Lunch will be $10.