New light engine may ease impact

By Reggie Ellis

The Exeter City Council approved the purchase of a new light engine for the Exeter Fire Department at its Sept. 14 meeting.

The decision came hours after the Tulare County Board of Supervisors announced $1.8 million in cuts to the Tulare County Fire Department that increased Exeter’s service area within the county. The Exeter Fire Department is contracted as Station 11 of the Tulare County Fire Department.

Exeter Fire Capt. Wes Grimm told the council that the new light engine, a Ford F-550 mini-pumper, would more than quadruple the gallons per minute that the department’s current light engine, a Ford F-350, could produce. Grimm also said the new vehicle would have the capability to hook up to a fire hydrant because it carries the larger sized hose not loaded onto the current engine. Grimm said the lifespan for light engines is generally 10-12 years. The F-350 was purchased in 1989.

“It has about 500,000 miles on it and breaks down about once every other month,” Grimm said. “It probably should have been replaced a couple of years ago.”

The purchase is crucial in light of county cutbacks. Fire Apparatus Engineer Richard Foster said light engines, the smallest of the department’s vehicles, generally respond to medical aides and grass fires which make up about 80 percent of all service calls. Heavy engines respond to car accidents, small structure fires and wildland fires while fire trucks respond to large residential and commercial structure fires as well as special and rescue calls.

Additional features include a 12-foot ladder extension and foam spray, which can double the extinguishing capacity of water because of its thickness. Foam is more effective in suppressing gasoline, solvent and chemical fires. With the possibility of life-threatening delays, Foster said the timing of the purchase could not have been better.

“The new light engine could hold a structure fire until a heavy engine or truck could show up,” Foster said.

The F-550 is also built by the same company, KME Fire Apparatus, that built Exeter’s heavy engine and fire truck which will reduce costs for parts and maintenance. Grimm said the F-350 was built by a now defunct company making parts and maintenance hard to come by.

The 1989 F-350 engine was designated as surplus and will be donated to an under-served community for fire protection.

In other news:

The council approved the language on the Daniel Unger Memorial Park plaque and monument. Finacier and park developer Chris Bitterlin has asked the language not be given out to the public until it is unvieled at the dedication cermony late this month or early next month. THe council also discussed the posibility of the naming of future parks ito allow for more community involvement in teh decision making process.

The coucil approved signs designating 12 parking spaces in front of the Exeter Senior Center, at the corner of E and Chestnut streets, as Senior Citizen Parking from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. The decision came after complaints from senior citizens that they had to carry orange cones back from the curb each day after lunch at the center. The city had been providing the cones to desgnate parking for the senior citizens. The curb cutout at the corner of E and Chestnut will also be sloped more gradually to make it easier for seniors parking there to get from their cars to the sidewalk.

A handicap parking space has also been painted on Chesnut Street on teh north side of teh Senior Center. The space is aligned withe the Wheelchair ramp at the rear of the center. The curb ramp was installed for easy unloading and loading.

The council agreed to a new contract for leagal services with McCormick, Kabot, Jenner & Watson law firm. Attorney Steve Kabot said the firm was still operating under a two-year contract that had exprired in 2001. Under the new contract attorney fees increased from $125 to $135 per hour, law clerks and paralegals from $75 to $85 per hour, and i theevent of court appearnace, a maximim sum fo $1,000 per day. The rate for copies remained uncharged. The new agreement is effective. Oct. 1 and ends June 30, 2006.

The ccouncil approved $4,500 in matching funds for $35,000 feasibility study to identify and evaluate potenial sites for in-fill housingreport that documents and evaluate up to three sites, proposes conceptual housing designs, identifies required changes to City of Exeter planning documents and  indetifies recommended souces of funding to facilitate actual development of new in-fill housing on one or more sites. The report will be used to assist with the applicaiton for future Community Block Development Grant (CDBG) money.

The primary objective of CDBG program is to develop viable communities by providing decent housing and a sutiable living environment by expanding econoic opportunities, principally for persons of low- and moderate-income. The program is funded throught the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and distribute through the state.


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