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LFD to purchase new vehicles

Posted: April 13, 2012 1:38 p.m.
Updated: April 16, 2012 5:00 a.m.

The Lugoff Fire District Board of Commissioners recently voted to enter into a capital lease purchase agreement -- not to exceed $980,000 -- to buy a new rescue pumper, a service truck and equipment to operate both vehicles.

The current rescue pumper owned by the fire department is 25 years old, according to Lugoff Fire Department (LFD) Chief Dennis Ray. The LFD doesn’t have a service truck.

“We really have two options as this point,” Ray pointed out to the board. “By not keeping the fleet up to date, we risk not maintaining our class 5 ISO rating.”

In 2010, LFD received the class 5 Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating. The best ISO rating a fire department can receive is a class 1. The worst is class 10.

At that time, the ISO agent cited three main reasons LFD didn’t score lower: the training facility for its firefighters, manpower and not having a service truck.

Ray said since then, three new fire fighters have been hired under a Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response grant and he’s been working on the other two.

If the LFD’s ISO rating increases, Ray said, both businesses and homeowners in the district would see a significant increase in their insurance prices.

“Anywhere from $250 to $500 per household,” he said. “If we pay a little now, it will save us, our homeowners and local businesses a lot down the road.”

During the 2010 inspection, the ISO agent told Ray other fire departments in the surrounding areas are “going backwards,” not because they are offering fewer services, but because the communities are outgrowing their fire protection so fast.

“We’ve got to keep up with the growth of Lugoff,” Ray said.

Ray’s solution, as presented to the board, included entering into a capital lease agreement to finance the purchase of the new trucks and equipment.

The money would come from a temporary Lugoff Fire District millage increase. The most the increase would be, Ray said, is 2.6 mils, which roughly comes to $16 a year for owning a $150,000 home.

This increase would only be in effect for the next 10 years; after that, it goes away, Ray said.

Ray added that the LFD has no intention of spending the full $980,000 approved for in the agreement.

“That’s the max, but we’re planning to work backwards from that number,” he said. “And in that case, it will be even less of an increase to fund it.”

Ray said this situation was “not unique” to LFD and he believes the 10-year agreement is the best option for tax payers.

Chairman Ken Truesdale agreed with Ray.

“If we lose our ISO rating, it will take years for us to get that back,” he said. “And once your insurance goes up, it’s not going to go back down. That’s not reversible.”

The next step in the process of financing the vehicles and equipment is to begin accepting bids, Ray said. Afterwards, the commission will hold a public meeting and vote.

Ray also said it may take five to six months for everything to fall into place.

The Lugoff Fire District board’s next meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. April 23 at the LFD station.

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