St. Petersburg Times

Spring Hill Fire Rescue plans to buy ladder truck
The fire chief points to big box stores and three-story medical facilities.
By MARY SPICUZZA
Published May 11, 2005

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SPRING HILL - Driving along the sprawling roads of Spring Hill, one might suspect that there are few multistory buildings in the entire community.

Regardless, Spring Hill Fire Rescue is preparing to buy a 105-foot ladder truck.

Why?

"It will not be used often, but it will fulfill a crucial need," Chief J.J. Morrison told the fire commissioners at Monday night's workshop.

Morrison later said that for years Spring Hill has needed a ladder truck. He said big box stores, three-story medical facilities and the proliferation of two-story houses in Spring Hill all make the truck a necessity.

"God forbid that we wait until we have a tragedy, then say a ladder truck could have prevented that," Morrison said.

Citing the community's rapid growth, the commissioners didn't so much discuss whether to buy a ladder truck - but when to buy it and how much to spend.

Morrison recommended that the truck, expected to cost about $600,000, be paid for out of impact fees.

He said he would first get a written legal opinion about purchasing the ladder truck using impact fees.

Commissioners then suggested making an offer of $580,000 on a demonstration model to Pierce, the manufacturer.

Former Commissioner Bob Kanner criticized the planned purchase, adding that he thought the money could be better spent. "I don't see a need for Spring Hill itself to have a ladder truck," Kanner said. "There's an old saying, "When the ladder goes up, the structure is coming down.' "

He said Spring Hill should be concentrating on purchasing items like medical equipment.

However, others applauded the FireDepartment's plan to buy a ladder truck.

"They don't come cheap, but you can't put value on a life," Brooksville fire Chief James Daugherty said. "If one life is saved by having this piece of equipment, it's well worth it, whether it's Spring Hill, Brooksville or Hernando County.

Daugherty said Brooksville has an 85-foot ladder truck but is hoping to replace it this year.

Mary Spicuzza can be reached at mspicuzza@sptimes.com or 352 848-1432.

[Last modified May 11, 2005, 00:46:18]