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Warren fire chief supports making tax permanent

Says maintenance, repairs costly for older trucks

WARREN — Two of the city’s five fire trucks are costing it an increasing amount of money each year to keep up with needed repairs, fire Chief Ken Nussle said Wednesday.

Having a plan to eventually replace the vehicles is one reason why he supports making the five-year, 0.5 percent income tax increase permanent.

The administration this week began working to convince city council to allow voters to decide whether the 2016 tax hike should be permanent. Administration officials are hoping council will pass a resolution supporting the change before mid-December so the resolution may be turned over to the Trumbull County Board of Elections, allowing residents the chance to vote during the March 17 primary election.

Nussle said the trucks are needing an increasing amount of repairs just to keep them functioning and available to battle fires within city limits.

“All of our trucks go through rigorous testing every year,” he said.

One of the department’s oldest is a 1989 Piercepumper truck, and another is a 1992 ladder truck. The department has two regular mechanics, as well as access to other city mechanics, to look at the trucks when normal maintenance is needed.

However, when repairs require specialized skills, the department hires outside agencies to do the work, Nussle said.

From 2017 through November 2019, the department spent $36,432 for the repairs and replacement of parts on the 1992 ladder truck, which does not include cost of basic maintenance of the vehicle, Nussle said. The replacement cost of hydraulic cylinders on the truck in 2017 and in 2018 was $19,959.

“I understand the desire of the administration to be able to make long-term plans for the replacement of fire trucks,” Nussle said. “All I can say is the trucks are operational today.”

John Jerina, president of the International Association of Firefighters 204, said a basic pumper truck can cost approximately $700,000, and a ladder truck can cost between $1 million and $1.4 million.

“The average life expectancy for a fire truck is 15 to 20 years, especially in departments that use their equipment a lot,” Jerina said. “There are departments that have 24-year-old vehicles that are like new, but they do not use the trucks as much as we do.”

Councilwoman Helen Rucker, D-at Large, who proposed in 2016 that the tax be temporary until the city proves it would keep its promise, on Friday said the city has more than kept its promises. She now supports making the tax permanent.

“We put in an extra $100,000 for streets,” Rucker said.

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