Archive for Thursday, September 28, 2000

New fire truck adds weight to an old argument

September 28, 2000

The city of DeSoto's newest fire truck offers evidence of the city council's commitment to improve its fire department, and might be the added weight needed to win an old argument.

The new pump truck can carry 1,000 gallons of water, Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Ritter said. Couple that with the pump truck the city acquired in 1995, and the department can unload 1,750 gallons of water on a fire without hooking up to any hydrant or tanker, Ritter said.

Once at a fire, DeSoto's volunteer fire department can pump 1,250 gallons of water a minute from the truck, the assistant chief said.

The city acquired the $165,000 fire truck through a $20,000 annual lease-to-buy contract, City Administrator Gerald Cooper said.

The new pump truck is the latest, and perhaps flashiest, of the fire department's recent improvements. The city has purchased a $20,000 pickup grass-fire rig that went into service Jan. 1. Four months ago, the city spent $4,000 for a used 1,000-gallon tanker. The city also bought 20 fire-equipment outfits for its volunteer force.

The department has also had success in attracting new volunteers. Ritter said five or six new firefighters will join the 22-man volunteer force within the next month.

The DeSoto City Council hopes the improvements will be noticed in Olathe. This spring, the Johnson County Commission denied the city's request to detach that part of Johnson County Rural Fire District No. 3 which has been annexed into DeSoto over the past three decades.

The fire district's advantage in equipment played a part in the decision. Despite the fact the county commission never specified what improvements were needed before a detachment is approved, city council member Duke Neeland said the new equipment and added firefighters should prove to the county commission that the city's fire department can protect all DeSoto residents.

"We're serious about the fire district detachment," he said. "They (the county commission) had concerns about our equipment. That's been addressed."

The next big ticket item for the fire department might be a new firehouse. The department has outgrown its present location in City Hall and that building doesn't offer the two-way drive-in access the department would ideally have, Neeland said.

The problem is a new firehouse would cost an estimated $250,000. It was suggested at Thursday's council meeting that the city could raise part of that money by selling the current City Hall. City offices are slated to move into the community center later this fall.

As the first step in a possible sale, the council decided to get an appraisal on City Hall.

DeSoto property owners could soon see a direct financial benefit from the fire department's improvements. Ritter said the department will ask that its ISO rating be reviewed. The new pump truck and other recent improvements should improve the rating, which insurance companies factor into fire insurance rates, he said.

The department is still seeking more volunteers, Ritter said. Those interesting in joining the department can call the city office at 583-1182.

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