Fire District To Get New Engines

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COLUMBIA - The Boone County Fire Protection District will see many changes in the coming months because of an approved bond.

In April, 70% of voters in Boone County approved a $14 million bond for the fire district.

This is the first bond the fire district has received since 1998. 

Just over half the bond will go toward facility improvements and additions while just under half will go toward new fire apparatus. 

The need for new fire trucks comes from some trucks on the front line being way past its prime.

"Typically they (fire trucks) are designed to last us for about 20 years. So we have reserve apparatus that were on that 1983 bond issue that are currently in front line service, so those obviously need to be replaced," Battalion Chief Gale Blomenkamp said. 

Blomenkamp said the older trucks don't meet the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) compliance for fire trucks and stressed why the fire district needs to replace them. 

"It's important that we are able to replace those and upgrade those things to keep our people safe and also make them safer to be on the road," Blomenkamp said. 

The trucks don't meet NFPA compliance because of the open cabs. Trucks with the open cab used hold five fire fighters at a time but now can only hold two fire fighters at a time. Open cabs are not allowed for safety reasons for the fire fighters.

An apparatus committee has been meeting to try and review what the new fire engines and apparatus for the fire district need to be, both now and for the future.

Since the last bond issue in 1998, there have been significant advances in technology. One example is compressed air foam systems as well as different equipment and a higher pump capacity.

"The committee's objective is to try and determine which of those technologies we need to incorporate into the future apparatus that we purchase to make sure that we have the tools and the capabilities that we need to protect the citizens of the county," project manager Captain Josh Creamer said. 

The committee will evaluate a lot of different factors including cost and what specific capabilities are priorities for the county as a whole. 

The fire district will purchase seven new engines ranging from $380,000 to $520,000 per truck.

"It's not going to be the Taj Mahal of fire trucks, obviously our budget would not afford that. So we have to look at what is needed and what is best for the citizens of Boone County that also meets our budget," Blomenkamp said.

The committee will meet every two weeks throughout the summer to decide which specific truck model to buy.

The district will start sellling the bonds on August 7th.

The fire district anticipates the money coming in fairly quickly and being able to start using the money shortly after.