by Dennis Dalman
Unit 20, the Sartell-LeSauk Fire Department’s 10-year-old air van, will be reconditioned rather than rebuilt, for a savings of $109,000.
That unspent money will be saved and used when the department gets a new, taller ladder-tower truck sometime in the future.
Reconditioning the unit would cost somewhere around $35,000.
The proposal was presented by firefighter Lucas Dingmann at the last Sartell City Council meeting and was approved unanimously.
Unit 20 is used to refill air tanks for firefighers at the scene of a fire, as well as off-site. The van has only 38,000 miles on it. With reconditioning it will probably last, in a rough estimate, maybe 15 years. The back of the van will be redesigned, with some things taken out, other things added, including bench seating. It will also serve as a warm changing place for firefighters when they become cold or wet in the line of duty. A small refrigerator, a few work desks and a generator will also be part of the reconditioned unit. The outside of the vehicle, now a faded pale tomato-red, will be repainted a bright firetruck red.
Dingmann told the council the department will eventually need a taller ladder-tower truck because with the current one it’s getting more difficult to reach taller buildings, especially residential apartments with large green-space setbacks. Such trucks can cost anywhere between $1 million and $1.5 million. It takes up to four years for a truck company to build such a rig to specifications, Dingmann noted.
Council member David Peterson said the fire department, which weighs in on the safety factors of newly proposed developments, should always bring up concerns about a development in cases where a building’s design and site plan might prevent access problems for firefighting, such as the difficulty of reaching their upper reaches with ladder trucks.
Then Peterson made a motion to approve the Unit 20 proposal for an amount up to $145,000. It was approved.