The township’s Public Safety Committee — consisting of three trustees and led by Township Fire/Rescue Chief Tom Gerencer — will host an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Monday on the planned purchase of a quint fire truck. It will take place in the training room at the Fire/Rescue station, at the corner of 168th Avenue and Ferris Street.
Gerencer will give a brief presentation explaining their reasons for purchasing a quint instead of a regular fire engine. The public will then have a chance to ask questions, as well as take a look at the department’s current apparatus fleet.
“We want to try to answer questions for people who have concerns — whether they support or do not the purchase of a new fire truck,” Gerencer said.
The Township Board has already approved spending $400,000 for the $725,000 quint fire truck. Township voters will be asked to fund the remaining $325,000 in a one-year millage in a proposition on Aug. 7.
“Unless we spend that kind of money, it’s not going to last 20-30 years," Gerencer said.
The millage request is for 0.59 mill. This would cost $29.50 for homeowners with a home valued at $100,000 (taxable value of $50,000), but on tax bills only once.
Township Trustee Tom Jenkins said he has had more than 35 phone calls from residents about the issue, both supporting and opposing the quint purchase.
“As a taxpayer, I’d like to know where my taxes are going," he said.
What is a quint?
The quint was given its name for the five functions the firefighting apparatus provides: pump, water tank, fire hose, aerial device and ground ladders.
While a quint-type truck may vary in length and equipment, the one that the township is looking to purchase is 36 feet long and carries a 75-foot aerial ladder. Its apparatus is more agile and less expensive than a traditional aerial platform truck, and it will allow for less staff needed on the truck, according to Gerencer.
The quint will also allow for firefighters to ventilate roofs beginning at about 80 seconds rather than the 7.5 minutes it takes with a traditional engine.
“This truck will get us into much closer areas and will have the ability to get us to rooftops immediately,” Gerencer said. “Rather than having two firefighters put a ladder to a building, set it up and cut a hole in the roof, there will just be one firefighter on this ladder that is quick and a little more efficient.”
The quint would replace the township’s 24-year-old Engine 1022 — a 1989 Pierce Engine — which is the department’s “first-out” engine. Gerencer said Engine 1022 is obsolete, and it has experienced equipment failures in its rear suspension and required a significant amount of down time during the past two years. It also does not have the foam capabilities used in fighting a fire that the quint does.
Safety is another factor. Gerencer said the 1022 has open-cab seating with a single metal lap bar — that is now against the law.
“It’s just not a safe place to ride,” Gerencer said. “In 1989, it was considered safe."
Gerencer has documented photos of tankers and fire engines from across the nation that have rolled over on the way to a call, crashing the cab and killing the firefighters.
“When it comes to safety — safety of my firefighters — I am willing to stand up and fight,” he said. “It’s dangerous and we can make it safer.”
To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.