The City of Yatesville Fire Department is proving that even with limited funds, it can make needed improvements to its equipment. Several months ago, the department purchased two military surplus portable generators for $100 each. One generator will serve as an emergency power source for the city’s water system, as well as power the fire station if needed, while the other will be a back-up, and could also be used to provide power to the senior center if it were needed for an emergency shelter during a winter power outage.
The latest purchase by the fire department is a military surplus John Deere Gator, a six-wheeled, diesel engined All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) that seats two and came equipped with an hydraulic dump box in back. The vehicle has 314 hours of operation on it, and runs great, according to Fire Chief Billy Lee.
“We spent a little bit of time and money painting it red, lettering it, and putting emergency lights on it. The trailer the Gator sits on, half of it was donated and the other half a private citizen donated the money to purchase the trailer. Grant total, we have approximately $350 in it, including the trailer.”
Lee told the Yatesville City Council at their meeting on October 12 that the Gator is needed for emergencies in the woods and elsewhere.
“The reason we got a Gator is for things like medical calls. If we have a deer hunter down in the woods and we can’t get our trucks to him, we can use the Gator to go get him,” Lee said. “In the past, we’ve had several deer hunters we couldn’t get to. As a matter of fact, we had one this past year that we had to go get. We wound up toting him about a quarter of a mile on foot, because we had nothing that could go get him. Upson County EMA has a Gator, but by the time they got theirs out here, we had already gotten to him. Or, if we have storm trouble and can’t get out, we have the Gator we can use to run around, plus do training on it.”
Lee also made a proposal to purchase/build a second tanker for the city’s fire department. Several months ago, the city council had approved the fire department spending up to $8,000 to repair the pump on the department’s one tanker. But since that approval came, the Upson County Board of Commissioners approved spending county SPLOST funds set aside for the fire departments to repair the tanker pump. Lee said with the county doing that, he believes that with part of the money the council approved for the pump, and with the help of a grant, that he can get a second tanker for the fire department.
“What we would really love to do, and I’m asking your permission tonight, is to go forward on purchasing/building a second tanker for the City of Yatesville,” Lee said. “We have one tanker which will be going to the shop soon to have the pump replaced. When it goes in the shop, we won’t have a water source for about two months besides what we carry on our two engines. At that point in time, we will be relying on other fire departments to assist us, rather than us having a tanker here.
“I’m proposing we go through the federal surplus and buy a truck chassis for $100. We’ll apply for the 50/50 grant with the Georgia Forestry Commission, which they’ve encouraged us to do, and let the GFC build us a tank to go on the chassis. If we get approved for the 50/50 grant, they will build a 3,000-gallon tank, spray a liner on the inside of it, paint it whatever color we want, mount the tank, and plumb the tank to the pump. Grand total is $11,500. The 50/50 grant only pays up to $5,000, so our part in that would be $6,500. We’ll take that out of the $8,000 that had been approved for the pump.”
Lee and other members of the fire department have traveled to south Georgia to look at one of the tankers built by Georgia Forestry. Lee said the cost value of purchasing a similar tanker brand new would be $50,000, and they can get it done for only $6,500.
Mayor Cecil Moncrief added that the second tanker would also help on the city’s insurance rating.
“That will give us two tankers, which should help the city the next time the ISO comes around,” Moncrief said. “One of the things that hurt us the last time the ISO came was we did not have a reserve truck.
After further discussion, Council member Phyl Gatlin made a motion to approve the fire department using $6,500 of the intial $8,000 to purchase/build a tanker. Council member Robert Releford second ed the motion. Council member Wanda Dozier was absent, and when the vote was called for, was 4-0 in favor.
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.