Until late Monday, the city was faced with making its most used firetruck last another five years.
By ROGER G. SMITH
CITY HALL REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- There is a fire call, so the city's 10-year old rescue pumper screams out of the downtown fire station and across the city.
There is a car accident, and out the truck comes. There is a rescue call, out it comes, yet again. The vehicle gets so much use it's stationed downtown just because it needs a central location.
"It's used far more than any other truck in the city," said Fire Chief John J. O'Neill Jr.
He was faced with making the rescue pumper last another five years, although two more years would have been a long life span.
That was, however, until late Monday, when he learned the city will get an unexpected $203,000 from the federal government for a new, better rescue pumper.
The grant, coupled with an $87,000 city share, will buy a vehicle with a much better pump and all the rescue equipment needed for most incidents.
One of many: The city is among 119 fire departments nationwide that get part of $90 million from a special firefighting grant program. Nearly 20,000 departments applied for a piece of the money.
"The odds were definitely against us," O'Neill said.
He credited a well-written proposal by the city's grant writer, Sarah Lown of Youngstown State University.
A new rescue truck would have been postponed for several more years without the grant. The city is leasing trucks bought in 1998 and 2000 because they were necessary but there wasn't enough money to buy them outright.
The grant also means the city doesn't need to take on another five-year loan for firefighting equipment.
O'Neill expects he will have to divert the $87,000 for the local share from other fire department spending. City finances are expected to be tight in 2002.
Besides more reliable equipment, all residents could see another bonus with the new truck.
An upgraded pumper might improve the city's insurance rating, O'Neill said. A better rating means property owners pay less for insurance.