Missoula Fire Department To Get New Ladder Truck - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Missoula Fire Department To Get New Ladder Truck

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The city looks for a way to fund an almost one million dollar ladder truck for the Missoula Fire Department.

The Missoula Fire Department is down to one ladder truck after a 24-year-old engine was deemed unsafe to use.

"Every year it was like I think we can get another year out of it, so it didn't really come as a surprise," said Missoula Fire Chief Jason Diehl.

He said fire trucks get inspected about every two years.

"Typically there's several deficiencies noted because it's so old, but this year there was a significant problem with material loss in boom structure," Diehl said. “We could either repair it or remove it from service, but this is a truck we've been trying to replace for about five years."

A ladder truck's service life is about 20 years. With this engine approaching 25-years-old, the decision was ultimately made to remove it from service.

"The problem we have then is we always operated with two ladders, because one was back up and if we don't have back up we can't do maintenance on the main ladder," said the City of Missoula's Chief Administrative Officer Bruce Bender.

With only one ladder truck left, the city's only option was to approve a unique $966,000 emergency purchase.

"There was a fire truck available coming out of the factory, which is pretty unique so we had to expedite and make an emergency purchase," Bender said.

The city tried to form a Public Safety and Justice District last spring to help finance emergency purchases like this one. This idea wasn't approved by voters, leaving the city trying to decide how to pay the almost one million dollar ticket.

The city is hoping to get voter approval to create the district next year, which will fund the truck if passed. If not, the city will have to look to other tools, like a general obligation bond to pay off the bill.

The new truck is expected to be in Missoula by early next week. Then fire fighters will train on it before it goes into service. Until then, the city will have only one ladder truck.

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