Grant could upgrade fire response in Crestwood

Grant brings down the cost of truck from $1M to $50K

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By Erin Achenbach, Staff Reporter

Crestwood is applying for a federal grant to use toward the purchase of a new “quint” fire truck, which could bring down the cost of a major Fire Department upgrade.

At the Board of Aldermen meeting Jan. 12, City Administrator Kris Simpson told the board that the city could apply by Feb. 12 for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant, or AFG, which is a federal grant opportunity administered by FEMA.

City staff was seeking board support on what style of fire truck, either a traditional pumper or “quint” fire truck, the city would purchase if it receives the grant.

“This is not a purchase obligation or anything of that nature. … Basically we want to get board support for whatever style vehicle,” said Simpson. “There’s a price differential and obviously there are operational considerations. So that’s why we’re having some discussion before we even go out for the grant.”

Fire Chief Lou Hecht told the board that he recommends the purchase of a quint fire truck, a style of truck that in addition to carrying hoses, ground ladders, pumps and water tanks, has an aerial device on top of the ladder for multistory buildings.

Buying the quint could influence the city’s Insurance Services Office, or ISO, rating, which is based on factors like training, staffing, dispatch capabilities and other operational considerations. Crestwood’s ISO rating is 2, on a scale of 1-4, with 1 ranked the best.

“During our last ISO review, it was pointed out that we have five buildings that were more than three or more stories, or greater than 35 feet in height,” said Hecht. “The response of our nearest aerial apparatus at a minimum is three-and-a-half minutes.”

Using a quint would allow firefighters who arrive at an alarm to not only raise an aerial ladder but also pull hose lines simultaneously. Using a ground ladder requires three firefighters to position and raise the ladder.

Nearby departments that have quints include Fenton, which covers part of Sunset Hills and could respond to a Crestwood alarm in 3.5 minutes, but only when it is available. The next-nearest quint is with the Affton Fire Protection District which includes part of Crestwood, with a response time of 7 minutes, 28 seconds, followed by Mehlville at 7 minutes and 29 seconds, and Kirkwood with 9 minutes and 23 seconds.

“Having an aerial would be important to provide the best possible service to our residents and proposed developments,” said Hecht. “Relying on an assistant company ladder truck can take 3 and a half minutes to 9 minutes for them to arrive on scene.”

The grant has a cost share, or match, that requires eligible applicants to match up to 15 percent of the grant using non-federal funds. Because Crestwood is a municipality with a population under 20,000, it would only have to match up to 5 percent of the grant.

The funds available for the grant total over $319.5 million, with 25 percent, or $79 million, set aside for vehicle acquisition.

A quint fire truck would cost somewhere between $900,000 to $1 million and, with the 5-percent match, the city would pay $50,000.

“This plan would take care of Crestwood Fire Department fire truck needs for approximately 10 years,” said Hecht. “The newest truck would be sent to reserve status and a new one purchased.”

If the grant is awarded, the quint would be purchased somewhere in 2022-2023. If the city does not receive the grant, it can try again next year.

The city’s primary fire truck, known as 1214, is a 2013 model pumper that has had its engine rebuilt for the second time in a little over two years. In 2018, the entire pump was replaced. It has an estimated value of $225,000, Hecht told the board. The 1214 truck was purchased in 2013 through an AFG grant.

“Our current replacement schedule for our primary truck has been brought up to year 2022-2023. Previous fire chiefs … had planned the replacement of our current fire truck in 2022 through their long-range planning,” said Hecht. “The idea was to keep 1214 for an additional 10 years as a reserve pumper.”

The department’s backup truck, known as 1210, is a 2000 pumper that was purchased from the Colleyville Fire Protection District. It has an approximate value of $45,000.

“Now that it’s nearing 20 years old, it’s nearing the end of its useful life for us because there have been critical enhancements in the design, safety and technology since it was built,” said Hecht.

“I don’t see any compelling reason not to move forward with this,” said Ward 1 Alderman Mary Stadter.