Monticello City Council approves fire truck study committee

Monticello city leadres have established a committee to review replacement or refurbishment costs associated with a fire department ladder truck.
Fire Chief Steve Joerg noted the ladder truck’s age and fire coverage limitations earlier this year when he did his department budget review with city leaders.
In a memo to council, Joerg and City Administrator Jeff O’Neill noted the department’s new truck would be designed and equipped with a ladder that could reach higher structures and businesses that have been built in Monticello in the last 20 years, namely Home Depot, Walmart, Target, Mississippi Shores, manufacturing plants, distribution centers, and the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant. According to Joerg and O’Neill, fire hall modifications likely would be necessary to accommodate a new ladder truck. Proposed modifications to the fire hall would be included in the scope of the committee’s study.
Prior to the start of the council’s Oct. 22 meeting, Joerg said he wanted city leaders to table the fire truck agenda item because he had just returned from the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association Conference in Duluth. At that meeting, Joerg said he talked to other fire chiefs about equipment replacement options.
“We were hoping to replace this ladder truck after 25 years of service,” he said. “The truck’s in good condition. We took another truck out of service a couple of months ago, and now I’m starting to miss that back-up capability that we had with that particular truck.” Joerg said he wanted to take some new ideas back to department firefighters before the council or the fire truck study committee moved ahead. “We might have to reverse the capital outlay and replace a tender truck with a pump on it versus going after a ladder truck,” he said. A tender could cost about $225,000; a ladder truck, anywhere from $850,000 to $1 million.
“It might be a better to set money aside and pick up the tender truck, which would go into service much quicker than a ladder replacement,” Joerg explained.
During last week’s city council meeting, O’Neill did mention Joerg’s request to table the fire truck committee study item as it appears on the consent agenda.
“The fire chief did request this evening that he have a few more weeks to look over [this] item with his crew,” O’Neill said. Councilmembers Glen Posusta and Brian Stumpf didn’t see a reason why the motion to establish a fire truck study committee should be tabled. “It’s still going to come back to us regardless [of what the committee or department recommends],” Stumpf said. “We’re just going out for a study. If they were ready with a recommendation prior to our next meeting, and if they had their ducks in a row, then they would not have to wait until the next council meeting to talk about it again [if the motion was approved].”
O’Neill replied: “If you wanted to leave it open-ended for them, that would work.”
Stumpf motioned to approve establishment of the committee, also recommending Councilmember Tom Perrault become the council’s committee representative. His motion was seconded by Posusta, and unanimously approved by the council.