by Joe Murphy

Reporter

Twinsburg -- Persistence paid off for officials with the Twinsburg Fire Department, as Councilors unanimously agreed May 15 to purchase three non-emergency vehicles totaling nearly $80,000 for the department.

The fire department's request for three vehicles had been left off this year's capital improvements list.

But Fire Chief Richard Racine offered his case for the vehicles to Council at an April 24 meeting, and said he was able to find the vehicles for approximately $25,000 less than the original proposed figure. Racine said an initial $105,000 figure presented to Council in January for the three vehicles was a "worst-case scenario."

"I'm very happy," he said May 16. "They're badly needed."

One of the three new vehicles has been ordered and received through a dealer in Aurora, according to Racine, while the ordering of the other two is "being worked on." The city missed a late-April deadline to secure a state bid price, though Racine said he did not know what that price was.

Council president Bill Furey said May 15 the purchase is a "good compromise," as the new vehicles will have many different uses inside the department.

The three new vehicles -- a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo and two 2007 Dodge Ram pickups -- will replace a 1999 Crown Victoria, formerly used by the police department, a 1997 Dodge Caravan and a 1995 Dodge Ram pickup, according to Racine.

The jeep will cost about $23,400, while the two trucks will be roughly $28,000 apiece, he said.

The older vehicles were taken out of service due to their deteriorating condition, according to Racine, who noted the cost to fix the vehicles was "quite high."

Since purchasing the 1995 Ram pickup in 1994, the department has put more than $13,000 in repairs and maintenance into the truck, Racine said. In addition, the vehicle needs another $11,000 in mechanical and body work, he said.

The new 2007 pickup will serve as a "utility vehicle" for the department, Racine said, which includes running errands, responding to non-emergency calls and retrieving equipment. It also can be used to tow the department's five trailers, he said.

Approximately $6,200 in work has been put into the 1997 Caravan since it was purchased by the department, according to Racine. But the van, which has roughly 89,000 miles, needs an additional $6,000 in work, including repairs to the parking brake, rusted fuel and brake lines and exhaust system, he said.

The van, which had been used to transport personnel to out-of-town seminars, will be replaced with one of the two new pickups, Racine said. The other new pickup will be used as a utility vehicle for the city's satellite fire station on Glenwood Drive, set to open in mid-June.

The converted police cruiser, used as a transport vehicle for one of the department's fire prevention officers, has been through $5,200 in work, including a new starter and a rebuilt engine, and an additional $5,300 to convert the vehicle from a police cruiser into a fire department vehicle. The car still needs new tires, transmission work and a new steering box, Racine said.

Mayor Katherine Procop said she was pleased May 15 to see Council reconsider the purchase of the vehicles, calling Council's original denial of the request "unconscionable." The mayor vetoed Council's April 24 approval of two greens mowers for Gleneagles Golf Club for $41,000, saying she could not justify that sort of expenditure when other vehicles were needed for the fire department.

E-mail: jmurphy@recordpub.com

Phone: 440-232-4055 ext. 4104