By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
HOUSTON – The Houston Fire Department is looking to downsize.
Officials are looking to buy a new fire truck that’s smaller than a traditional fire engine, but can still get emergency crews and water to the scene of an accident or fire.
The board of Mayor and Aldermen voted last week to seek a grant for up to $70,000 from the Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Assistance Program to help pay for the $150,000 vehicle.
“This truck will be smaller and can get to places our bigger fire engines can’t,” said Houston Mayor Stacey Parker. “Being smaller it is also a lot more efficient to operate and send to situations where you don’t need a big fire engine.”
The bulk of the city’s calls to respond are for non-fire calls. Those calls include medical calls, auto accidents and potentially dangerous situations at local factories, businesses and homes.
“About 60 percent of our calls are medical related,” said Houston Fire Capt. Jonathan Blankenship. “Calls to emergency situations are included in the fire calls.”
Blankenship said the vehicle is classified as a mini-pumper but still rated as a Class A pumper.
“This will be a 2-ton chassis and it will have a pump, hoses and equipment such as the Jaws-of-Life on it,” said Blankenship. “It’s more of a multipurpose vehicle.”
Blankenship said the city bought its last fire engine three years ago and its current rescue truck is a 1988 model that has been repeatedly repaired and upgraded. Blankenship said the city has applied for this grant for four years and has repeatedly been turned down.
“When we were told we had the grant we decided to move quickly,” said Parker. “We will advertise for bids and also advertise to borrow the remaining money to purchase the truck as soon as possible. We hope to have this vehicle by late 2012.”
Parker pointed out the city is running out of room to house its fire trucks and is also looking to build a metal building behind the downtown fire station.