Morehead City plans for new ladder truck purchase, talks possible funding partnership with county

Morehead City is considering purchasing a Pierce Ascendant 100-foot ladder truck, pictured here, for about $1.6 million, with hopes Carteret County will help contribute funds for the purchase. (Contributed photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — Morehead City is honing in on the model and specs of a new ladder truck for the fire department, but with prices coming in higher than originally anticipated, officials hope to partner with Carteret County to help fund the major capital purchase.  

The Morehead City Council heard an update on the new ladder truck search last week during a workshop session Oct. 6 at the city hall on Bridges Street. Fire/EMS Chief Jamie Fulk and other members of an appointed search committee came to the meeting to share information about the truck they are considering for purchase.

“We’ve appointed a committee that’s been meeting, we reviewed a lot of ladder trucks, we’ve looked at a lot, drove several … and eventually decided on a vendor that we felt met our needs,” Chief Fulk said.

The committee is eyeing an Ascendant bucket truck built by manufacturer Pierce. It is 43 feet in length, with a 100-foot tall ladder, compared to the department’s current truck, which is 42 feet long and has a 70-foot tall ladder.

The model is similar to one the Beaufort Fire Department recently purchased, so members of the BFD brought their ladder truck for the council to check out in the parking lot after the workshop.

The current cost of the new truck is $1.6 million, higher than the $1.2 million the city has budgeted for the purchase. Due to rising material costs, the quoted price is set to increase by at least 4% come February.

“The prices have gone up dramatically, that’s unfortunate, but it’s what we’re dealing with,” Chief Fulk noted.

The city is hoping to work out a funding agreement with Carteret County to help cover the cost of the new ladder truck. The Morehead City Fire/EMS Department not only covers property within town limits, but also its extraterritorial jurisdiction and some surrounding county-controlled areas, including the Wildwood and Mitchell Village fire districts.

Based on a contract between Morehead City and Carteret County set to expire in 2024, the county contributes funds for operation of the department in exchange for coverage of certain areas, but the county does not currently provide funding for large capital purchases.

“Whether we work a deal with the county or not, we still need a ladder truck,” Chief Fulk said, noting the department’s current truck is aging and due for replacement soon.   

Some council members feel the county is not contributing its “fair share,” saying Morehead City residents are bearing the financial burden of paying for fire and EMS coverage for those living outside the city limits. Councilman George Ballou said the city previously recommended hiring an independent auditing firm to determine an equitable contribution structure, but the county decided to do the work in-house.  

“We have not received anything yet (from the county), I’ll be the optimist and we might be pleasantly surprised, but we’re waiting to see the numbers that they’ve got,” Mayor Jerry Jones said. “…Once we see that, then we’ll know what direction we need to take.”

Morehead City manager Ryan Eggleston told the News-Times Monday the city hadn’t started talks with the county yet about contributing funding for the new ladder truck, but he expects to soon.

Once the city finalizes the purchase of the new ladder truck, which is still at least several months out, it will take a minimum of 14 months to receive the new truck. Payment will be due upon delivery, but the city will lock in a price when it signs the purchase contract.

 

Contact Elise Clouser at elise@thenewstimes.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.

(7) comments

Osprey

Why should county property owners subsidize MHCFD ? Increase the fire tax for properties within the service coverage area. MHC can seek grant funding, scale back major purchases to fit within budget or simply defer capital expenditures until funding is in place. County property owners already pay fire tax for their local fire district.

mpjeep

Agree 100%, Osprey. As a rep for Thom Tillis told a lady with cancer: if you don't have money for health insurance, you can't have it.

David Collins

If this vehicle will be used in the county as well as the city , it sounds appropriate . Of course the devil is in the details , always in the details .

Osprey

D Collins This piece of apparatus " ladder truck" is designed for taller structures than the typical 2-3 story single family home. Not too much like that out the County

David Collins

Not a fire truck expert but have seen them used for other things than tall buildings . Should a condo catch fire , and they have been known to do that , anywhere near by , surely it would be dispatched . These mixed developments being proposed will have multi level living . Better to plan ahead and have it so they can get one obstacle removed and bring the plans to fruition . Cram um in = prosperity , does it not ? Besides it looks so cool with giant flags hung from the top . Cool is a good thing around these parts , isn’t it ?

Drime

As a City taxpayer if bothers me to see a Million $ Plus Fire truck in Grocery Store and fast food parking lots around town . I now that they have smaller vehicles that would save on wear and tear .

David Collins

Have inquired about just that , Drime . Was told that where ever on duty fire personnel go , their firefighting tools go with them . Fast response time and all that . Seems rather expensive but makes sense .

Welcome to the discussion.

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