ASHLAND − A new 100-foot ladder truck has been ordered for the Fire Department, but will take about two years to deliver to the city.
Ashland's existing truck — known as "Tower 50" — will remain in use until the new truck is delivered, according to Matt Miller, the city's mayor.
That truck, though, has needed $150,000 in repairs since 2009, and must be sent out of state each time work is needed.
"The average life expectancy for a ladder truck is somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 years, max," Miller said. "Ours is actually more than 26 years old."
Ladder truck offers protection for college dorms
Such a tall ladder truck is not only needed to allow for evacuations from up to six stories high, but to also help firefighters reach upper levels of buildings set back from roads, the mayor explained.
"We do have some tall buildings," Miller said. "In particular, we have dorms, college dorms. That's largely the reason we are in need of this particular kind of apparatus."
There also are new apartment buildings on George Road, and a planned building project in the Pump House district downtown.
Although the city has a 50-foot ladder truck, many buildings in the city are too high for it to reach.
Backup ladders are about 30 minutes away
The city's existing 100-foot ladder truck has become unreliable recently because of its age.
The mayor said just this summer, the city had tried to show the truck off at a community event.
"We had drawn the name of someone who would get to go up in the bucket," Miller said. "We couldn't get it to go up. We tried everything and it wouldn't go up."
The good thing is there was no emergency that day.
"Unfortunately that is happening more and more," Miller said. "It will work sometimes, and it won't work other times.
"The problem is, you have to make sure it works at the time it's needed."
If "Tower 50" breaks the day it's needed, then a 100-foot ladder truck would be called from either Mansfield or Wooster, which are the two closest.
Firefighters tell the mayor that it would take about 30 minutes for one of those trucks to reach Ashland during an emergency.
Roughly $1 million balance to be financed
The city paid $542,669 for "Tower 50" when it was built in 1996.
A truck now will cost Ashland $1.56 million. Fortunately, the city is applying $500,000 in American Rescue Plan grant money toward the new vehicle.
City Council members have authorized the mayor and Finance Director Larry Paxton to find the best way to finance the remaining $1 million cost of the new truck. That loan is expected to be for a term of between 10 and 15 years.
Miller signed the contract for the new vehicle last week once he had council's authorization.
Getting that contract signed this month saved the city $100,000, which is the price increase that the Sutphen salesperson told city officials was scheduled to be applied to the ladder model next month to account for inflation.
Now that the city's order is official, Ashland is in line to get a truck. The mayor said Sutphen has 400 emergency vehicles to build ahead of the city's new 100-foot ladder, which is why the truck will take two years to deliver.
This article originally appeared on Ashland Times Gazette: Ashland Fire Department to get new $1.5M 100-foot ladder truck