Vienna Fire Department asks Maries R-1 to consider financial donation to keep ladder truck in Vienna

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 1/5/22

VIENNA — Representatives of the Vienna Fire Protection District were at the December Maries R-1 School Board meeting to ask the school district to consider a financial donation to the fire …

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Vienna Fire Department asks Maries R-1 to consider financial donation to keep ladder truck in Vienna

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VIENNA — Representatives of the Vienna Fire Protection District were at the December Maries R-1 School Board meeting to ask the school district to consider a financial donation to the fire district in order to pay for expensive repairs to the department’s ladder truck.

Fire Chief Mike Smith and Fire District Chairman Larry Kampeter spoke for the fire department. Vienna Mayor Tyler “TC” James also spoke in support of the fire district’s efforts to keep a ladder truck in Vienna. 

Smith said they are looking at $27,000 in repair work to the 1986 ladder truck. They are trying to partner with the City of Vienna to do the repairs. He told the board members the school is one of the biggest buildings in Vienna and one of the primary reasons why the fire district has a ladder truck. 

Smith said Vienna has an ISO rating of Class 4, and is among 136 towns in Missouri that have the good Class 4 rating. He said the fire district can lose the ladder truck if it doesn’t find the money to make the repairs. “The board has to make the decision to get rid of it,” he said. If Vienna’s ISO rating goes to a Class 5, it will increase insurance rates by about six percent. “I’m here to ask if you will partner with us to pay for the repairs,” he said, adding “it is a unique deal, but we are in a situation.”

Board member Vicki Bade asked if they have a deadline to get the money. Smith said the repairs have to be made whether they keep the truck or sell it. The truck currently is in Springfield for the repairs. It broke down in Lebanon on the way and it had to be towed to Springfield. 

Board member Joe Barnhart asked whom will the ladder truck benefit. Smith said all two-story buildings in Vienna. “It’s why we have it,” he said. It is about safety with volunteer firemen being put on wet roofs or reaching kids in peril on the second floor of a building. 

Mayor James told the board the firemen originally came to the city with a request for help paying for the $15,000 repair and the city committed to paying 25 percent of that amount. Since then, there has been a new breakdown and an additional cost of $12,000. Mayor James said when they were talking about, it was determined that nearly all of the two-story buildings protected by the ladder truck, the ones which would need it, don’t pay taxes to support the fire department. The mayor said the city wants to chip in and help but they would like to see other entities help, too. 

“If they have to sell it, they will never have one again,” Mayor James said. A new ladder truck will cost about $1.2 million. The fire department can buy a used ladder truck, but it is still a huge expense. 

Board member Matt Novak said the ladder truck is 35 years old and asked about sinking more money into it. 

Kampeter said that is the kind of questions the fire district board has been looking at. Finding the money is their last resort for keeping the ladder truck. The fire district does not want to lose its Class 4 ISO. Kampeter said the first ladder truck they had was a 1967 model. Every year they have a ladder truck it has to be certified. Using the truck keeps it lubricated as they are run by hydraulics. These are the repairs the truck needs now. He said they are willing to maintain it and the ladder truck is still good. They paid $50,000 for it when they bought it. He said if they get rid of it the fire district still will need another truck for pump capacity. Smith said for the ISO rating, they look at pump capacity. Kampeter said nor does ISO recognize mutual aid; the fire district has to hold its own. He said the city asked them to talk to the school. “To get rid of it is our last resort,” Kampeter said. The fire district is not that big and has a tax base which brings in about $88,000 annually. They have a year’s supply of funds. The annual workers compensation bill for the volunteer firemen is $16,000. 

Superintendent Teresa Messersmith said maybe the school can have a fundraiser for the ladder truck. Board President Vick Bade said, “We know how to fundraise!”

Messersmith said she’s not sure if the school district can legally give the fire department money. Kampeter said it could be a community fundraiser that they might do once in awhile. 

Bade said now they understand the situation they will be able to figure something out. 

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