The Stephenville City Council approved a financing agreement for a new ladder truck for the fire department during Tuesday’s meeting.

In December, a similar conversation regarding a new ladder truck was brought to the council but received no action. At that time, the fire department had not yet selected a vehicle. During the past few weeks, Stephenville Fire Chief Jimmy Chew and his team have selected a vehicle for purchase.

“We believe the best purchase for a truck in the city of Stephenville will be a 110-foot platform built by Pierce which they call their Ascendant, which is a single rear axle truck,” Chew told the council members. “It has a platform of 1,500-gallon permitted water pump and quite a bit of compartment space. This company makes two things: they are one of the few suppliers of a single axle truck of this size and they also make what is called a pump under cab, which gives us a lot more storage space on the truck which is always a problem on the fire truck.”

Councilman Mark McClinton asked Chew if the fire department was going to be able to stay under the $1.2 million budget.

“The truck is $1,061,000 and change. We have trimmed the list back and we will be able to stay under that and we’ve allowed some flexibility where we think we can work with that. We’re sure we can stay under the $1.2 million,” Chew said.

Council member Carla Trussell, place 2 on the council, asked Chew to elaborate on the necessity of the truck.

Chew said that Stephenville currently has enough buildings over three stories to where the fire department needs a ladder truck. The fire department’s current ladder truck is a 1997 70-foot truck.

“One of the issues with the truck is the fact that because we have started to go higher, move out with the fire lanes, we need a longer truck, not necessarily to go to the top of the building but to give us the angle to get to it from where we are in the parking lot,” Chew said.

Chew elaborated more on why now is the perfect time.

“A few months ago, one of our trucks was in an accident. It was a reserve pumper that was in an accident. We lose credit when we don't have a reserved truck because we have a required gallon needs that we have to be able to pump and if one of our trucks goes down, we can’t meet that requirement so our current ladder was due for a replacement next year and it is also a quint which is a combination pumper ladder. This will allow us to take our other ladder and use it as a reserve pumper and as a reserve ladder with one vehicle. We just felt like this was a good opportunity to make all of that happen,” Chew said. 

McClinton then asked about the “up-and-coming mandate” and City Administrator Allen Barnes answered the question.

“As Jimmy said, we're seeing larger buildings being built. We have proposed in the pipeline a couple of five-story buildings. Our current ladder cannot reach those size buildings. The other factor is the pumpage, as Jimmy said, we have to have a certain number of gallons permitted to be pumped and currently, due to the fact that we do not have a reserve pumper, we are not able to reach that level,” Barnes said.

Chew explained why the fire department decided to choose this truck.

“A five-story-building is going to be at least 55 feet and our 70-foot ladder will obviously reach the top of that but it's not safe to put that truck that close to the building so we need a longer ladder to get that,” Chew said. “Everybody thinks that if you buy a 110-foot ladder, you’re looking to go to a 110-foot building, but that’s not the case, you have to get away from the building.

“We picked this truck for a lot of reasons. We think it best fits Stephenville and we also think that this can be a truck that we can use for quite a few years that will fit our needs for the next 20 years. The life expectancy for one of these trucks is at least 25 years.”