The Cherokee Fire District (CFD) has recently requested funds from the Cherokee City Council for a new equipment and personnel van. The price tag for the new vehicle is estimated to be $229,463.
According to Hank Hayes and Roger Frisbie, spokespersons for the CFD, there has been a misconception and people think the department just wants another van. But the new vehicle would be an equipment truck with the capability to haul 10 people in the back and two in front, with everybody belted in safely and all of the rescue equipment contained in one rig.
The current rescue van is a 1985 GMC that has been converted over the years to meet the needs of the department. The van seats eight men and is used on every call the fire department goes out on. The vehicle hauls equipment and personnel to an emergency, but not all the equipment can be hauled in the same vehicles.
The rescue equipment that is currently inside the van is stored in homemade compartments and is tucked into corners and any other space that is not occupied. If the department gets the new truck the rescue equipment will be stored on the out side of the vehicle in side compartments and the firefighters will have quick and easy access to the equipment.
"Keith Willis and Doug Gochenour (two fulltime department members) have done a great job in keeping the van useful over the years but the van has become inadequate," said Hayes
Frisbie also stated "We need to take personnel to rural fires and mutual aid calls (calls that assist other communities) and to transport them safely. The current van does not have seatbelts and the fire crew sits on wooden benches that are inside the van."
When asked if there is a cheaper alternative like finding a used van to meet the department's needs, Frisbie replied, "We would entertain that suggestion and we have been looking in trade magazines for a while for a better deal and we also have applied for grants but have been turn down three different times. What works in one department may not work in another."
What give this issue a sense of urgency is that, if the bond issue is passed, it will take 210 days for manufacturing and delivering the new truck, according to Hayes and Frisbie.
Hayes and Frisbie were adamant about informing the public of the need for a new truck and invite anyone to come down to the fire station to see for themselves the old van and to have their questions answered in person.
On March 11, the Cherokee City Council will be hosting a public hearing on the proposition to authorize a Loan Agreement and the issuance of Notes not to exceed $250,000 for the fire department's requested new vehicle.
Both Hayes and Frisbie say they hope the bond will be passed.