City down to 2 working fire trucks: Sales tax drop may make it difficult to purchase replacements

Published 5:09 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

As of Monday, the city of Bogalusa was down to two fire pumper trucks for the entire city.

Fire Chief Richard Moody said that the city typically has a fleet of five, but three trucks are out of commission due to mechanical issues. With only two trucks, all three fire stations in the city cannot have a working pumper.

“We got old trucks,” Moody said. He did express optimism that a third truck would be up and running this week, however.

“We are supposed to have one back today,” Moody said Monday. “We’re waiting on a part.”

Moody explained that the typical lifespan of a pumper truck is 20 years. In Bogalusa, only two trucks are under 20 years old.

The oldest pumper is a 1974 model, and then there’s a 1994 truck and a 1995 model. The two newest models are from 1999 and 2009.

Soon the city will begin budgetary plans for the next year and Moody said he hopes there’s money aside for a pumper truck.

“Hopefully,” he said. “I have been getting prices.”

Moody said that while trucks are expensive, they don’t get cheaper and so buying one sooner rather than later makes sense.

“Those things go up $18-to-$20,000 per year,” he said. Moody explained that the 2009 truck cost $246,000 and today the same truck, new, sells for $365,000.

Mayor Wendy Perrette said the city needs to make some tough decisions when it comes to budgeting for the next year.

“It is imperative to the city that these men and women have the proper equipment to fight fires,” Perrette said.

While the new budget hasn’t been unveiled, Perrette said the city’s financial officer is working with Moody to see if they could get money for a new engine.

“Stacy (Smith) and Richard have been working closely on the matter,” she said.

The mayor also wanted to remind residents that the city is down in its sales tax collections and she urges people to vote to renew the taxes on Nov. 8.

“We are just praying that people vote ‘yes’ on these taxes because it makes up 12 percent of our budget,” she said.

In the meantime, Moody said residents shouldn’t worry about the firefighters’ ability to control fires in the city.

“If we have a structure fire we usually use one truck,” he said. “Most of the time we just tie up one truck with a structure fire, but I want all sections of town to be covered.”

In addition, Moody pointed out that the city calls in area volunteer departments to help out, if they need it.

However, considering the dry conditions in the city, the chief is also urging caution when burning leaves and brush.

“No, so far we haven’t had an increase in calls,” he said. “People are being cautious. I did see some smoke around town this morning from people burning leaves … we urge people to stay with the burn piles, so they don’t get out of control.”