ARCANUM — Imagine how much your expenses have changed since 1983, said Fire Chief Kurt Troutwine, during the public Safety Night held at the Arcanum-Butler High School on Tuesday.
In two weeks, voters will take to the polls and see on the ballot an additional tax (Issue 12 proposed tax levy ), “it’s really a replacement,” explained Troutwine, one that will replace the current levy that was put in place over three decades ago.
In 1983, the levy was at 2 mills and generated $22,000, today it generates $33,000. A replacement levy at 2 mills is expected to generate $70,000. The money will be used for items such as safety equipment worn by firefighters, fire station additions, or equipment used in the station or on the fire trucks. None of the funds is used for operating expenses.
If adopted, the current levy would end with the new levy implemented.
As one can imagine, the cost of equipment has changed over the years. Troutwine provided examples such as an air pack that cost $1,200 in 1989, would now cost $5,500. A fire truck the village purchased at $156,550 in 1989 would cost $486,500 today. Firefighting gear was $1,600 per person three decades ago but is now $3,330 per person.
The village department currently has 25 volunteer firefighters.
“Think about that, at over $3,000 per person how much that is going to cost to replace the gear,” said Troutwine.
Another problem — an aging fleet — while the fire engine and Chevy Grass fire truck are relatively new (purchased in 2017 and 2013 respectively), the water tanker was purchased in 1993, and both the heavy rescue and second fire engine purchased in the late 1980s.
“We are having some problems getting parts,” explained Troutwine, with a need to prepare for replacements “on down the road.”
Along with an aging fleet, is the age of equipment as Troutwine pointed out how the air packs, purchased via a grant from the federal government are 15 years old.
According to Troutwine, the National Fire Protection guidelines recommend replacing equipment every ten years, with 75 percent of the village fire equipment over a decade old.
“We are also worried about cancer,” explained Troutwine, with firefighters at a high risk of exposure due to dealing with contaminants. “Everything today is plastic, and there is nothing natural anymore.”
The fire department was able to purchase new hoods and gloves in the fight against carcinogens thanks to a grant last year. However, the department will still need to purchase new, remaining gear.
“I’m just asking you to make sure you vote,” said Troutwine with a reminder to consider the department needs and the change in valuations — a $100,000 property will see an increase of approximately $44.
“It’s not a huge increase, but it is a very valuable levy that we need to be able to keep the department going well, to keep the guys protected, to be able to serve you,” said Troutwine.
Reach reporter Bethany J. Royer-DeLong at 937/548-3330 or email email@example.com. Read more news, features, and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.