Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

PG gets new fire truck
By James Peacemaker, Jr., Managing Editor
Feb 28, 2013, 12:08

PRINCE GEORGE — For firefighters at the Jefferson Park station, it was a deal they couldn’t let pass them by.

They asked the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to approve buying a ladder truck capable of reaching 105 feet in the air that could also pump water. The deal would allow them to buy it for $100,000, nearly one-tenth of what it would cost to buy a brand new one.

But there was a catch: The truck is 25 years old.

By the end of the night, supervisors approved the purchase, but not before asking some tough questions.

The age of the truck was the biggest issue, but it was refurbished in 2003 with an electrical overhaul and air conditioning added. The truck also did not see a lot of action in recent years. Caroline County hasn’t used the truck much recently because there wasn’t much of a need for it. The truck only went on seven calls in the past year and Caroline only had one person who could even drive it.

When Prince George County Administrator Percy Ashcraft was asked if he knew much about the truck, because he previously was county administrator in Caroline, he joked: “This will be the second time I bought it.”

The 450 horsepower diesel engine has about 47,000 miles on it. The truck has a 250-gallon water tank and is capable of pumping 1,500 gallons a minute. It can carry 900 feet of hose and 137 feet of ladders. The hydraulic ladder even has its own breathing air line for extended operations.

Supervisor Alan Carmichael expressed concern about any possible surprise cost of maintenance.

“This seems too good to be true,” he said.

He wanted Prince George firefighters to give the truck a thorough day of testing and wanted a warranty. “Even used car dealers have 30-day warranties,” he said.

Local firefighters said they drove the truck for about an hour, pumped water for two hours and took time to operate the ladder. They also said that any cost of maintenance and repairs could be reduced because Prince George has its own garage.

The truck was also reviewed by a third party to check for problems and an oil analysis was done.

Two other vehicles would be taken out of service to make room for the truck, either going up for sale or to be sent to another station in the county.

Jefferson Park firefighters said despite the cost of the truck, there would be benefits in addition to added capability. The vehicle would improve the Insurance Service Office rating in one of the fastest growing and most developed areas of the county. Insurance companies often calculate rates based on this ISO rating.

A better rating could help entice businesses to the area with lower insurance premiums.

There was some talk among supervisors of delaying the purchase for further study, but fire officials said there were probably other buyers waiting in line to snatch it up. Supervisors agreed and approved the purchase unanimously.

The truck was paid for with $75,000 in proffers specifically designated for an aerial apparatus and $25,000 designated for equipment. Proffers are cash paid by developers as a way to make building projects more agreeable to localities.

Tax rate extended

In other business Tuesday night, the Board of Supervisors extended the current real estate tax rate for another six months to have it coincide with the fiscal year. The tax rate will stay at 80 cents per $100 of assessed value. The vote was unanimous.

A second unanimous vote set a public hearing for April 9 on possibly raising the tax rate to 82 cents. Advertising a meeting to consider that amount would mean 82 cents would be the highest it could go. It does not mean that it would necessarily be raised to that amount. Supervisor Henry D. Parker Jr. commented that he would not approve a rate of 82 cents, but he OK’d advertising a meeting to consider that amount.

Comp plan

Planning Manager Douglas Miles presented an updated comprehensive plan to the board Tuesday night. A comprehensive plan is required by the General Assembly to be updated at least every five years. It serves as a blueprint for how localities plan to grow.

Little has changed with the plan since 2007. In fact, the land use map showing how property can be used is identical. Some minor changes include updated demographics from the census, a new floodplain map, a 2012 water study and a 2035 Crater Planning District transportation plan.

Ashcraft said the plan is important because it is something he can send to businesses or developers who are looking to build or relocate here.

Assessor Aid

The supervisors also approved a plan for a mutual aid agreement between assessors in Prince George and Hopewell.

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