Oberlin helps to buy city a brand new fire engine

New truck will replace 29 year-old engine

Janet Paskin

This summer, Oberlin College donated $225,000 to the Oberlin Fire Department to help them buy a new fire truck. The College's donation covers about a third of the cost of the new truck, which will cost $673,000.

"The College has assisted the Fire Department since 1968," said Dennis Kirin, Oberlin Fire Chief, referring to the College's policy of helping the Fire Department purchase new fire-fighting equipment. "We see it as the College showing its appreciation for the services that we provide."

Andy Evans, Vice President of Finance, mentioned that the donation was easy to justify because as a non-profit organization, the College is tax-exempt and therefore doesn't support the Fire Department through town taxes.

"As a college we are dependent on the city for fire safety, and we look to the city to meet our needs. In return, we've always helped the city buy new fire trucks," President of the College Nancy Dye said.

The new truck will replace the Fire Department's aerial ladder truck, which was purchased in 1968. The older a truck gets, Kirin explained, the more repair it requires and the harder it becomes to find parts. The Fire Department hopes to retire the old truck before its thirtieth year.

The new fire truck has been ordered but is not expected to arrive until March, 1998. The Fire Department ordered the truck from Pierce Manufacturing Company in Appleton, Wisconsin. Pierce is one of four companies in the country that builds fire trucks.

Every fire truck is built with design specifications from the Fire Department ordering the truck, and every truck is built from scratch. The building process takes about two months.

"Technology has changed significantly," said Kirin. "In 1968, all fire apparatus were mechanical. Now everything is micro-processor driven."

In addition to the increased technology, the new truck will increase the power of the fire pump to 1500 gallons per minute from the older trucks capacity of 1000 gallons per minute. The new truck will also have a 100 foot climbable ladder. The older truck's ladder only reached 85 feet and required a basket at the end to move people to the ground. By having a fire truck, the Fire Department is able to respond in two to three minutes. If the fire truck were to come from the next-closest location, which is Elyria, the response time would be greater than 10 minutes.

The facilities of the Fire Department also affect the College's insurance ratings. The College, and all the businesses in the town, have lower insurance rates because the Fire Department is well-equipped to respond to emergencies.

"I'm glad the College supports the town like this, even if it does benefit the College as well," said Matt Passell, OC '96 and a client services intern in the Computing Center.

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Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 1, September 5, 1997

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