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Replacement Fire Dept. Levy Needed To Face Rising Costs




Faced with the rising cost of firefighting equipment to protect Archbold Fire Department’s firefighters, citizens, and property, Andy Brodbeck, Archbold Fire Department chief, said the German Township Trustees are seeking a replacement fire levy.

Speaking to the Archbold Area Chamber of Commerce at a Monday, Oct. 29, noon luncheon, Brodbeck discussed the history of the department and some of the costs they’re facing today.

On a cold night in 1972, Archbold firefighters were called to battle a blaze in the Scott Theatre, in downtown Archbold. During the fight against the fire, the Bryan Fire Department was asked to send its aerial truck.

It took time for Bryan’s truck to arrive, but when it did, it did the job it was assigned to do- it protected other downtown structures.

After the fire, the German Township Trustees, who purchase and maintain fire equipment for the department, purchased a new aerial truck at a cost of $130,000.

Today, truck number 101, the aerial ladder truck, is still an important member of the department, but as it ages, it needs more and more costly repairs.

“It’s starting to nickel-anddime us,” Brodbeck said.

Except in this case, “nickeland dime” isn’t really accurate. Recently, two new hydraulic cylinders were installed at a cost of $30,000. There were also problems with some of the truck’s water pipes, which represented an expensive repair. And those aren’t all the problems.

To replace the aerial with a new aerial truck that meets the new standards would cost about $800,000.

Brodbeck went down the list of other trucks in the department’s inventory; a second-run pumper, kept at the North Side Fire Station, is a 1978 model. It would cost $325,000 to replace.

The department’s hose truck, a converted tanker, is a 1982 model. The water rescue truck dates back to 1987. The department’s heavy rescue was new in 1988. The two first-run pumper trucks were built in the early 1990s.

Changes In Equipment

Brodbeck told chamber members when he joined the department, he was issued a rubber coat, boots, gloves, and a plastic helmet. Today, when a firefighter is ready to fight a fire, he’s wearing $2,000 of protective equipment.

That equipment proved its value on Feb. 20, 2004, when a dust explosion in Sauder Woodworking’s sawdust collection system injured three firefighters. While they were wearing the protective gear, they didn’t have their self-contained breathing apparatus masks, or air masks, on. But how badly would they have been injured without their other safety gear?

In the 1970s, those SCBA units were about $400 apiece. Today, those SCBAs are $3,400 apiece. The air tank itself must be replaced every 15 years. Today, the tanks alone cost $800, “when $400 would have bought the whole unit in the 70s,” Brodbeck said.

The department was able to get a grant and replaced 30 SCBAs at a cost of over $100,000.

Things aren’t slowing down for the Archbold Fire Department. Last year, the department made 760 runs, including 86 fire calls, and 622 rescues. This year, as of Thursday, Oct. 25, Archbold fire and rescue crews had been on 682 runs, comprised of 70 fire calls and 612 rescues.

The Levy

The Archbold Fire Department collects revenue from four sources. German Township buys and maintains the trucks and equipment. The Village of Archbold provides and maintains the fire stations, and pays the firefighters and rescue workers.

Fulton County purchases ambulances and supplies for the rescue squad, and a special tax levy pays for paramedic service, which is provided by the Archbold Fire Department.

For decades, the German Township Trustees have collected a half-mill property tax levy for fire equipment, which has been renewed every year. As the result of state law, if the levy is renewed, it does not grow with inflation.

Today, the half-mill levy brings in about $63,000.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, German Township voters are being asked to replace the half-mill levy. That allows the levy to be assessed against current, appreciated property values. If approved, it is expected to generate $126,000 each year.

Brodbeck said the owner of a home valued at $100,000 pays $5.60 per year. If approved, the new levy would cost the same homeowner $15.31 a year, an addition cost of $9.71- roughly the cost of a fast food meal for two.

The additional revenue is needed, Brodbeck said, to keep up with the rising cost of the firefighting equipment, needed to protect firefighters, the residents of German Township, and their property.- David Pugh

—— Thomas Jefferson invented the calendar clock.


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