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Making Lemonade

January 23, 2011

Last fall the Stafford County Fire Department lost a mini-brush truck in a fire that burned 700 acres before it was contained. If you run a business, you’re going to have occasional losses. Emergency service is no different. When you have a loss, you try to learn something from it, and you move on. That’s what we did.

In moving on we discovered that we could take the lemon – the burned truck – and turn it into lemonade.
The insurance settlement for the burned truck was $43,000. Before they settled with us, they offered to sell the entire burned truck for $3,500. We quickly accepted the offer since there was little damage to the rear portion of the truck.
We then looked at the Fire Department’s primary needs. A rescue truck was the top need identified.

Currently, rescue operations for the county come from Macksville, St. John, Stafford, and Seward. The tools are carried on: an old orange ambulance in Macksville, a Class “A” pumper in St. John, an old model truck with a rusty utility bed in Stafford (see side picture), and a pull behind trailer in Seward.

None of the current rescue units are large enough to carry all the specialized equipment that might be needed for a rescue. Moreover, it doesn’t make fiscal sense to buy four large trucks and all the specialized equipment (even if we had funds to do so). But, it does make sense to buy one. And, that’s exactly what we did.

We found a rescue truck that fit our needs perfectly. With insurance monies available we made the $19,000 purchase. Since the Stafford station has the strongest 24/7 staffing of available fire personnel, the decision was made to house the truck there. We will purchase additional specialized equipment as the budget allows.

Another decision we had to make was whether we would replace the burned rescue truck. We had the slightly burned truck bed and we also had a low mileage truck that was being used as a water transfer unit. So, the decision was made to repair the burned truck’s bed and place it on the water transfer truck. The water transfer trucks’ bed will be moved to the old Stafford rescue truck, keeping that truck in service.

The cost of putting the brush truck back together was made less expensive through the generosity of firefighters. Shon Meschberger, Shane Meschberger, Jerry Sanders, Larry Sanders, and others from the Stafford Station fixed the damage to the brush truck at no cost to the County. The only expenses were $300 for parts.

We will have the lime truck painted red to match the bed. This will be done by an auto body shop at a cost of $1,000.
Total cost for replacing the brush truck: $3,500 + $1,000 + $300 = $4,800. This expense added to the expense of the rescue truck brought our grand total to $23,000.

Next on our needs’ list was a need to refurbish a Water Tanker/Tender at the Hudson Station. This truck has a sound chassis, but the tank is leaking. Additionally, the truck isn’t designed with all the features that a tanker/tender should have. Bids were secured for this work, as well as a $5,000 state grant. Minus the grant the total cost of the refurbishment was $11,676.

Adding in the refurbishment cost brings the total monies spent to $33,676 – still well under the $43,000 insurance monies received.

Sometimes, it’s possible to turn a bad thing into a good thing – especially when you incorporate the generosity of donated labor. The Stafford County Fire Department is appreciative of the support “YOU the CITIZENS” give us. We pledge to do our best to keep our operation fiscally and operationally responsible.

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