Fire district debates new truck, role in subdivision planning

Craig Fire/Rescue needs a new fire truck and needs to know the truck can access emergency sites in the fire district.

Whether to buy a new fire truck was a hot topic at a Craig Rural Fire Protection District meeting on Jan. 15. The district's board of directors also discussed how subdivision planning impacts their mission.

The fire protection district wants to be able to sign off on planning for new subdivisions within and near the fire district.

"Right now we have a say, but it doesn't have any teeth," said Tom Cotton, who presides over the board.

Currently, the fire district reviews subdivision planning, and the Moffat County Planning Commission takes their comments into consideration when making decisions on subdivisions. But the fire district has no real say in the subdivision approval process.

The fire district would like to ensure that roads leading into subdivisions are structurally sound enough to support the weight of the fire department's trucks. They want the roads to be wide enough to allow the trucks through, and not too steep for the trucks to climb, Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Roy Mason, said. The roads should also have access to water.

"Some people spend all their money buying land and putting a house on it and can't afford to build a driveway that can support a fire truck," Mason said. "It can barely support a four-wheel drive."

Many homes outside the city lack quick access to water, Mason said. Routt, Grand, and Rio Blanco counties each require subdivisions to have a tank of about 1,000 gallons of water near the subdivision entrance. Mason said the fire district would like to see new subdivisions in the fire protection district follow a similar policy, so tanker trucks would not have to return to the city to refill during fire emergencies.

Mason stressed that all of this is still in the conception stages.

The fire protection board continued to debate the purchase of a new truck to compliment the department's fleet.

In December, Tanker No. 9, a water-hauling truck with a 3,500-gallon capacity, blew a seal while responding to a fire south of Craig. Antifreeze leaked into the oil, and engine repairs could cost as much as $20,000.

At a meeting in December, fire protection board members almost unanimously disapproved of repairing the engine, because the tanker is 35 years old and has more than 200,000 miles on it. That meant the department would need to buy a truck.

But at their last meeting, the board voted to table a decision on any truck purchase for 30 days. Cotton voted against the motion, not wanting to postpone the decision.

Other board members wanted to explore their options further. Mason said the board may want to buy another heavy tanker, a smaller 1,000-gallon tanker, a pumper-tanker truck, which could haul water as well as pump it from available sources, or another brush truck, which would be used to fight grass fires.

The department owns four brush trucks already, and has one functioning tanker truck.

Cotton said the only way he sees the department affording a tanker truck is to lease one for $23,000 a year. After five years, the department would own the truck.

Otherwise, the department would have to buy a new cab and chassis at a cost of $105,000. The broken tanker's stainless steel tank would be transferred to the new truck.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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