Gibbons planning for new emergency response unit

Gibbons will soon have two new units in its fire and emergency arsenal. In addition to the fire engine the department has coming next March, Town Council committed to the remaining funding needed to order a new emergency response unit.

By Stephen Dafoe

Gibbons – Although it is still some months away and a different council may be approving it, Gibbons Town Council agreed to include $54,000 in its 2011 budget to help fund a new emergency response unit (ERU) for the Gibbons Fire Department.

Gibbons Fire Chief Eric Lowe told council that he and Sturgeon County Acting Fire Chief Pat Mahoney had found a more suitable unit for the department than the $168,000 unit they had been previously considering. The unit currently being considered carries a price of $185,000 but has some additional bells and whistles, including 9-11 seats which would allow firefighters to travel to a call with their packs on or don them en route.

Although Lowe said one consideration on the table was to keep the existing box and put it on a new chassis, the idea was discarded after further discussion as it was decided the best value was in procuring a completely new unit.

But while the selected unit is more money than the previous new unit under consideration, Lowe was not looking to council to finance the entire cost. The Fire Chief told council his department had already donated $13,983 through fire pay and an additional $42,000 through other fundraising means.

“They’re putting the effort into the unit,” Lowe said, adding that Sturgeon County has agreed to contribute $60,000 to the ERU in their 2011 budget. Additionally, Gibbons has already committed $23,734 towards the vehicle in its 2010 budget.

Lowe requested that council make a commitment to allocate $54,000 in its 2011 to cover the shortfall, but advised the mayor and council that there may be some financial value to the department’s current unit, money which would be returned to the Town.

“They figure they can get up to $30,000 for the ERU,” he said. “So that would take away from that $54,000.”

The Fire Chief said he’d also applied for grant funding which could take care of some of the remaining balance he’d asked council for, but would not know the success of the application of the amount until the end of September.

Lowe said the new emergency reponse unit, together with the new engine the department has coming next march, will provide the department with good coverage for rescue and fire attack for the next 15 to 20 years.

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