Fla. Officials Question Need for $1.1M Aerial

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. --

Volusia County's largest city must decide whether to buy a million-dollar ladder truck for its fire department, but the tallest building in Deltona is only about three stories tall.

WFTV asked if the expense was really necessary.

Fire Chief Robert Staples spread out plans Monday for the next firefighting tool on his wish list: a 100-foot aerial platform ladder truck. It would cost just under $1.1 million, which is double what the city paid for a smaller aerial truck eight years ago.

"Money's tight and I think we can do a lot better than what they asked for. Plus, if you really look around, do we really need a super-duper ladder truck?" resident Nancy Schleicher questioned.

Residents point out that Deltona's biggest buildings are usually big box stores. The fire chief conceded there aren't a lot of high-rises, but said big buildings necessitate a big truck.

"A ladder is used not only for height, but for reach. You don't have to have a skyscraper," Staples said.

Their current aerial truck been out of service 25-percent of the time over the last three years, but replacing it would be $200,000 cheaper than the big truck and repairing it even less.

"Why not just fix the one you have and live with it?" WFTV reporter Jason Allen asked Staples.

"Well, it's become unreliable. We've had several problems and we have put money into repairing it," he said.

An insurance study 10 years ago suggested Deltona should have three aerial trucks. WFTV checked and found most cities on the high-rise filled beachside have two.

City leaders are debating the buy, which wasn't planned until next year.

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