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Council green lights fire truck purchases

The Wadena City Council discussed the window of time to buy a fire truck during its regular meeting Tuesday.

The council passed a motion to extend authority to City Administrator Brad Swenson and Fire Chief Dean Uselman to make decisions on purchasing fire trucks when they can and then call a special council meeting for final approval.

Firefighters Brent Johnson and Dale Haman were at the meeting as well as Uselman.

A 1995 Freightliner truck was being discussed as a possible replacement for the oldest truck. It has a 1,000 gallon per minute pumper but just a 500 gallon capacity.

Mayor Wayne Wolden said it didn't sound like the fire department was all that thrilled about the vehicle.

Uselman responded that the 1995 Freightliner is everything they need except the tank capacity, which some members of the truck purchasing committee have reservations about.

Council member Don Niles said they should err on the side of public safety and wait to purchase a truck with 1,000 gallon capacity, while council member Jeanette Baymler said the decision should be left to the fire department.

Wolden said the council won't pick the fire truck and the city doesn't want to tie the fire department's hands.

Uselman said a decision to purchase a truck must be made in a timely manner before another fire department makes the purchase first.

Baymler said that even in a three-day window it could take to call a special meeting, the opportunity to purchase a fire truck might be gone.

The council also authorized the fire department to move forward with the fundraising and purchase of a Jaws of Life unit.

"We bought our original set approximately 20 years ago, and with the new technology and automobile construction, there are things that our old Jaws will not do that we're running into," Uselman said.

Johnson said the biggest issue was being able to cover everything that people are driving.

The letter from the fire department said that in 2011, they had 30 calls to service and six of them - 20 percent of calls - were for the Jaws of Life.

The estimated cost of new Jaws is $32,000. A total of $15,000 was budgeted from the city, and the remaining $17,000 would have to be raised via donations and grants.