The pumper truck the Dadeville Fire Department purchased in August malfunctioned at its first fire. Dispute has ensued regarding who is at fault. The fire truck remains out of commission at this time. | Alison James

Archived Story

Out of service

Published 11:41am Thursday, January 17, 2013

New fire trucks came to the Dadeville Fire Department in August, but one of them has been out of commission ever since its first day on the job.

“It broke the first time we took it to a fire,” said Fire Chief Kenneth Thompson. “It pumped about 9–10 minutes, then it just locked up.”

The city purchased the trucks – the now broken pumper as well as an aerial truck with a 105–foot tower – for $180,000 from Palmetto Fire Apparatus
Used Fire Truck Sales And Service Center in South Carolina. The trucks were used but – reportedly – in good condition.

But upon inspection after the truck stopped working, the department found that worn out gears had locked the gearbox up and it had very little oil in the crankcase.

“The trucks were supposed to be certified, both of them, and they weren’t,” Thompson said. “They were supposed to be serviced before they came down here, and they weren’t.”

The plug that would have had to been removed from the crankcase to refill the oil was also rusted, Thompson said.

“There’s no way that thing had been off anytime soon, for it to be rusted up like that,” Thompson said. “They can’t say it had grease in there, because they couldn’t check it.”

Although the trucks were under a  six –month warranty, the company is claiming that the malfunction was not its fault and is refusing to make the repairs at no charge, according to discussion during recent city council meetings. Thompson said they will be sending the truck to Decatur, Ala., to be fixed at a cost of $11,500 – if none of the parts are usable, which is still in question – in addition to an approximately $1,000 fee for a Jackson’s Gap company to tow it. Thompson said the truck is also under litigation with the selling company.

Thompson said, in his opinion, the department didn’t even need the pumper truck because the capacity of water it will hold makes it ineligible to considered a “tanker” according to the Insurance Service Office, which does not benefit the department as far as ISO rating. The ISO rating affects homeowners’ insurance.

“We really didn’t need another engine,” Thompson said. “I had nothing to do (with the purchase) … they left me out of the picture.”

Thompson also said he feels that the purchase of the trucks was rushed by the city council in order to acquire the trucks prior to the municipal election to improve public opinion of the council and the mayor.

“I’m not putting the blame on any of the firemen that went up there,” Thompson said. “I think the council rushed to get (the trucks) down here and get them in the paper before the city election … to make somebody look good … and now we’re paying for it.”

Councilman Randy Foster said what Thompson thinks is not true.

“This wasn’t done in a political fashion,” Foster said. “This was done because the fire department came to the council and said they were in need of a fire truck … I’ve been hearing that for eight years, and we had the means to provide them with a truck. We did it in a timely fashion because we wanted to get them what they need to improve the fire department.”