WCESD #4 to purchase new fire truck

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By Christine Bolaños

Williamson County Emergency Services District #4 will purchase a new fire truck designed for quick attack on fires and medical calls, and access to remote areas where larger fire apparatus can’t get through.

The Board of Commissioners agreed to the purchase during the Monday board meeting.

The vote to make the $210,342 purchase from Pierce Manufacturing was unanimous, with Commissioner James Baker absent from the meeting. The total cost without equipment is $210,342 and will be paid for in annual payments of $20,838.86 over 10 years. The first payment is due once the fiscal year 2017-18 budget goes into effect.

ESD staff plan to make a $38,250 down payment toward the purchase.

“Our current squad/brush is a 2002 Ford 550 that has 121,164 miles,” Fire Chief Anthony Lincoln stated on the meeting agenda. “Replacing this vehicle and moving it back to brush truck will extend the service life of this apparatus. The vehicle we are currently utilizing was retrofitted to be a squad and has limited capabilities.”

Commissioner Keith Bright asked if it would save the department money to pay off the purchase at once.

Lincoln explained there aren’t enough funds to pay it all off at once and the interest rate difference is minimal.

Also at the meeting, commissioners appointed Bright as the board’s treasurer. The position remained vacant after former Commissioner Kirk Lowe stepped down from his post over the summer.

As a result of the new appointment, commissioners authorized the department to update its information with First Texas Bank. This includes payroll transactions and signature cards for all accounts. Administrator Alma Jellison said she expected the updates to be processed and ready for the updated signatures by the next board meeting.

To the relief of firefighters at the meeting, commissioners also authorized a participation agreement with Texas County & District Retirement System.

“We’ve looked at (Williamson County) in on this retirement,” Lincoln said. “Jarrell and Hutto fire are on it. We’re looking at ways to enhance the system and to improve employee retention, plus provide something to employees.”

Lincoln said in the past employees had the option to participate in the program and the ESD contributed 5 percent to their retirement. With TCDRS, each employee contributes 7 percent while the ESD contributes about 9 percent.

“I was amazed how little it cost to get in there when we’ve been struggling with 5 percent,” Lincoln said.

The TCDRS is set, which means an employee cannot put in more than 7 percent.

“This is within what we budgeted to do for this year,” he said.

Commissioner James Crabtree said he liked the fact that Williamson County uses this program for its employees, given that it has a greater number of employees.

The firefighters thanked commissioners for approving the participation agreement with TCDRS.

“We got to keep you guys happy,” said President Sandra (Taylor) Norwood, laughing.

Lincoln’s monthly Chief’s Report included 93 incidents during September. Sixty-five percent of the incidents fell in the rescue and medical category, with 18 percent good intent calls, 9 fire response, 4 percent service calls/citizen assist, 3 percent false alarm and false call and 1 percent hazardous condition (no fire).

Lincoln said the numbers were business as usual with the exception of fire response, which did increase during the month of September. Average district response times were down from 7 minutes and 44 seconds in August to 7 minutes and 31 seconds in September.

Average response times have also gone down from the last two years.

In 2014, the average response time was 8 minutes and 26 seconds, while in 2015, the average response time was 9 minutes and 18 seconds.

In other news, staff completed basic special operations technical rescue training, drafting operations for water supplies and air management consumption tests. The ESD was notified that it did not receive a SAFER Grant.

Lincoln said it would meet with Williamson County ESD #3 in Hutto, which was granted a SAFER grant, for advice for upcoming applications.

An update of legal proceedings regarding former employee Tiffany Wells was scheduled during the executive session, but it was not held.

The next board meeting is set for Monday, Nov. 14, at 6:30 p.m. at the fire station.

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