Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mayor defends fire truck’s condition

Needs to be replaced, but not urgently, he says

Express Staff Writer

Randy Hall

    Following Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe’s claims that the ladder fire truck shared between Sun Valley and Ketchum is obsolete in terms of insurance considerations, Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall defended the condition of the vehicle.
    “We would never operate a piece of equipment that isn’t safe,” Hall told the Mountain Express at the base camp north of Hailey for the Beaver Creek Fire burning west of the valley.
    Hall pointed to the strong rating that the Insurance Services Office has given the Ketchum Fire Department. According to the ISO’s Fire Suppression Rating Schedule, ratings are classified into 10 categories, with 1 being the highest level of protection, and 10 being the lowest. The Ketchum Fire Department’s current rating is a 3, its best to date.
    Both Hall and Fire Chief Mike Elle voiced their pride in Ketchum’s ISO rating because it allows the city’s taxpayers to more easily pay for insurance. Hall asserted that there is a major difference between a class 4 and 3 rating.
    “It’s probably between a $500,000 to $750,000 difference just in the difference between a 4 rating to a 3 rating,” Hall said.
    He also said that if the class 3 rating were ever in jeopardy, he would know it, and thus build the city’s capital improvement plan around those needs.
    Elle also defended the condition of the truck, saying it’s inspected every year and meets all the National Fire Protection Association requirements.
    While Hall acknowledged that the ladder truck needs to eventually be replaced, he also emphasized that he believes the current truck is still reliable.
    “It can last as long as we maintain it to the level to which it’s maintained,” he said. “The thing about our fire truck is that it doesn’t have many miles on it, and it’s been well kept.”
    Additionally, Hall said the Fire Department has a full-time certified master mechanic whose main priority is keeping all rigs safe for personnel to use.
    Elle agreed that the truck needs to be replaced, but said he’s still confident that the current truck is safe to operate.
    “It’s an older piece of equipment that is planned to be replaced,” he said. “The truck is fully in service in the city of Ketchum and our fire station. It meets all of the certification requirements and our staff fully understands that there’s a potential for mechanical issues because it’s an older piece of equipment.”
    Hall and Elle also said the Fire Department has more pressing needs, as stated in Ketchum’s capital improvement plan. Both stated that the need for new air packs for firefighters takes precedence over the truck.
Elle said that when it comes time to replace the truck, leasing a new vehicle could be a viable option given current interest rates. Sun Valley Councilwoman Michelle Griffith also advocated for taking on a 10-year lease at an Aug. 1 City Council meeting. At the meeting, Briscoe said: “I’ve had some alarming developments in regards to the Fire Department over the last six months. We have a ladder truck that is already over 25 years old. We’ve repaired it. However, there are still some hydraulic problems with that machine. As mayor, I hate to see our firemen go up that 100-foot ladder, collapse and fall into a burning building.”
While Hall was unhappy with the claims, he said he hopes the relationship between the two governments can soon improve. He said he’d like to keep politics out of fire fighting.
“To imply that we’re putting a piece of equipment out there that is not safe is irresponsible,” he said. “We need to work collaboratively. To that degree, we’ve hired a consultant to identify values we can review in full view of the public and the press, and we’ll put together a negotiating team to try and bring our cities and departments back together in a way that benefits the communities.”

Eric Avissar:

About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2019 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.