Archive for Sunday, August 3, 2008

Warning sign

The failure of a ladder truck during a Thursday house fire is a warning that city officials can’t afford to ignore.

August 3, 2008


The need to update Lawrence's firefighting equipment is a little less hypothetical following the failure of the department's largest ladder truck during an early morning fire on Thursday.

Officials no longer have to wonder "what if" the equipment operated by Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical fails at the scene of the fire. Such a failure occurred Thursday when firefighters were unable to deploy the ladder out of the truck. According to Fire & Medical Chief Mark Bradford, the failure directly affected the department's ability to fight the fire.

At least in this case, the failure didn't hinder the rescue of any occupants in the house. Everyone had escaped the structure by the time firefighters arrived, although one suffered serious injuries when he jumped from a third-floor window. If someone had been trapped in a taller building, the malfunctioning ladder could have had tragic results.

In June, Lawrence city commissioners decided to move ahead with the purchase of $2.1 million worth of fire equipment that was approved as part of the 2008 budget. They have been unable, however, to find money in the 2009 budget for an additional $2.3 million worth of equipment requested by Bradford - including a new ladder truck. The current plan is to include money for emergency equipment in the proposed 0.3 percent sales tax for city infrastructure improvements that is expected to go to voters in November.

It's true that the city faces difficult financial times. There are many needs, and commissioners are determined not to place an additional burden on property tax payers. However, the main charge of municipal government is to provide basic services, and it doesn't get much more basic than fire protection.

Bradford is not making extravagant requests. The reserve ladder truck, which was put on active duty after Thursday's failure, is 22 years old. The truck that failed is 10 years old. It was repaired on Friday, but it won't last forever. Is the older truck an adequate backup if the primary truck fails again when a ladder truck is needed to save lives?

Thursday's fire and ladder truck failure should provide ample warning of the risk the city is taking by delaying any further the replacement of key firefighting equipment. Sales tax or no sales tax, this item needs to move to a higher position on the city's priority list.


Centerville 9 years, 9 months ago

Here we go again: the fire department needs to keep a check on its equipment and/or it may need a new ladder. It has a $2.1 million appropriation. Let's see.......I know, let's raise taxes!!!It's the latest Lawrence version of the Washington Monument Syndrome.

jonas 9 years, 9 months ago

Anonymous userFMT6488 (Anonymous) says:"Basic services:PoliceFireMedical (EMT) - not a hospital!WaterStreet/ Transportation facilities (roads, sidewalks, and the signage/ lights to control traffic flow).All else is a bonus, people!"Well, it' a good idea we have you here to define these things for us. Is there a procedure in place if we feel like you've overlooked a thing or two?

anneht 9 years, 9 months ago

What is a sofa permit??? I have a sofa and dont' have a permit - am I likely to have to go to jail?

JohnBrown 9 years, 9 months ago

Funny how all the growth we've had hasn't had the effect of increasing our tax base to the point of generating more revenue than it costs to service that growth.

50YearResident 9 years, 9 months ago

Our ladder truck needs a $200 repair. We better buy a new one. Maybe we can get a nice new shinny one for only $850,000. OK lets do it! Then we won't have to do any preventive maintenance for a while. It is such a bother to maintain them.

igby 9 years, 9 months ago

Buy insurance, put in a fire escape too, because the list of what if's just keep getting bigger. What if the dam fails.What if the water intakes need replaced.What if my car needs a spark plug, should I buy a new car because my spark plugs bad. Why is the city running these fire trucks all over town to every car accident? So they can wear them out faster?Hears a word of advice! The reason the French Revolution ended was because some whore stabbed the newspaper guy to death while he was sitting in his bath tub and then the next day, they cut off his bosses head, "Pierre". Two people died and the French Revolution was history. So, I'm not saying we should kill the newspaper guy but all the tax increases have been sold to the public via LJW, as well as these CC's elections.Get a new spark plug!Get a new fire chief it it makes you happy!

mrus3671 9 years, 9 months ago

Yes ~ I agree that we should be provided the "basic" services for the fire dept. However, I'm also concerned about the services of the Lawrence Police Dept. due to their critically low staffing which the paper doesn't report on. What is the minimum # of officers patrolling a city of at least 100,000 people - where more and more serious crimes are being committed? We need to be given not only fire protection but also know that we have a full police force to help us if needed.

FMT6488 9 years, 9 months ago

Basic services: Police Fire Medical (EMT) - not a hospital! Water Street/ Transportation facilities (roads, sidewalks, and the signage/ lights to control traffic flow). All else is a bonus, people! If the City Commission starts talking about cutting any services, these should be the >LAST< on the list to be cut back. Lawrence has a history of over-extending some of its' "city" services. With the current economic problems (and the increasing probability they will NOT be going away), the City Commissioners need to seriously consider cutting back on expenses. How about cutting the water to the Parks & Recs watering schedule (or watering every other day, or even every third day)? How much would that save the city?- I know this could mean the grass in the parks could turn yellow, but would you rather have a higher property tax so you could see (and occasionally use) the green grass in our city parks? Most species of grass do not need to be watered every morning - in fact many will grow slower, also saving in gas used to keep that nice green grass short and pretty.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 years, 9 months ago

City commissioners in Lawrence cannot be depended upon do to anything without the consent and direction of the city manager. These individuals are clueless, spineless, and unable to do anything but dance on the string of Core-less. City government in Larryville has been broken for many years and it gets worse by the minute.

somebodynew 9 years, 9 months ago

It is just amazing to me that we can spend millions of dollars on new fire stations (because they are needed??), but the FD didn't seem concerned about the equipment until the stations were built. Prior planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part. Should have bought equipment first, or downgraded the lavious stations.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 9 months ago

preventive maintenance.... The private sector has been doing it for years, and PM does work... but again it is work.

altarego 9 years, 9 months ago

My car is 16 years old and it is in perfect running condition. The ladder truck "failure" was an oil pressure sender. 60 bucks. Every article I see arguing for a new tax for equipment replacement based on this example of neglectful maintenance is a farce.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.