GLASGOW – The “new” ladder truck the Glasgow Fire Department recently acquired went into service Monday, GFD Chief Bryan Marr said at a meeting that evening of the Glasgow Common Council Public Safety Committee.
An expensive auto-charge part had to be replaced, first, but Marr said it was covered by the warranty on the low-mileage, well-loaded demonstration vehicle that was put on sale at a significant discount when the next model year's trucks became available.
“We got everything swapped out today, so it is fully loaded and responding on runs,” he said.
The older ladder truck is now for use as a reserve vehicle, and the engine truck that isn't technically a ladder truck but had been used as reserve in that manner was on the agenda for the full council meeting that immediately followed so it could be declared as surplus equipment for sale. That action was unanimously approved later by the council.
He said he's already had some interest in the surplussed truck from a volunteer fire department from another county.
He and Assistant Chief Brian Shirley and Battalion Chief Dereck Rogers are going this weekend to Louisiana to check out the brand new engine truck that had been ordered months ago and is supposed to be ready for delivery in the next week or so, he said.
Marr said the department had lost three members – one sergeant and two firefighters– to Bowling Green, and two more – a sergeant and a lieutenant – have now moved on to Elizabethtown's fire department. Their last shift was Sunday. He said he's heard the Elizabethtown department is about to engage in another round of hiring.
Marr said he has spoken with the mayor and some council members who contacted him about what that's happening, and he said he conducted exit interviews with all five, four of whom have returned the questionnaire that was part of that process, which causes him some concern that he may lose more staff.
“All four of them, it was pretty unanimous across the board, it was entirely salary based – not entirely, [but] that was their main, No. 1. That bears discussion at some point in time, I believe, in the future,” Marr said.
Another staff member is in the process of trying to get a job with a law enforcement agency, he said.
The department is seeking new hires, with an application deadline of May 4 and written and physical testing to follow, he said.
Police and emergency telecommunicators are covered under a state law that allows cities to recoup the cost of training if new personnel don't stay with the job for three years, and they sign a contract to that effect when hired. Marr said he's working on getting a contract drafted for new hires that would be similar to that, only without the citation of the state law, which doesn't cover firefighters.
“The reason the fire service is not covered under that [Kentucky Revised Statute] is because there's not a state fire academy like there is a police academy,” he said.
Fire training is mostly done in-house, but there is still a cost associated with it, Marr said.
“So, I'm happy about the trucks, not happy about losing the guys,” he said.
Glasgow Police Department Chief Guy Howie said the contract only applies if the officer goes to another police department.
He said his department has no vacancies now, but the newest officer won't be going to the academy until July and one is at the academy now.
The department is applying for a grant to help cover new radio equipment, but he has roughly $70,000 in the budget in case the grant doesn't come, Howie said.
A new signal repeater and replacement of mobile radios and handheld radios are part of that project, he said.
“That should get us through for quite some time to come,” Howie said, “but they're not cheap anymore.”
He also briefly discussed a couple of summer programs the department is doing. A weeklong junior police academy for 25 youths in sixth through eighth grades is being planned, “and we're getting a lot of applications for those kids, so if it's as successful as I suspect it's going to be, we'll probably do two next summer.”
He's also working on what he's calling 7-11 Hoops and More that will take place Friday and Saturday nights from 7 to 11 p.m. primarily at the Liberty District Ralph Bunche Community Center with basketball and other activities to give youths in seventh through 12th grades something to do to get them “off the streets.” He said a grant for $5,000 has been awarded by the local chapter of Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy to help with the project, he said.
Howie also reported that the department's next new member, Zinc, a canine unit, is expected to get certified for service Thursday and will start working Monday. His handler, Officer Nick Houchens, has been in training for about 10 weeks, the chief said.
“We're excited to get him out there,” he said.
Zinc is a German shepherd that is almost 2 years old and is “a big, big boy,” Howie said, adding that if the dog stands on his hind legs and puts his paws on Houchens' shoulders, they are eye to eye.
Councilman Wendell Honeycutt asked whether the department had a bullet-resistant vest for Zinc, and Howie said he will be requesting one from a nonprofit organization that does that sort of work, as the vests cost about $1,000.
Honeycutt also mentioned a letter received from Crossroads Life Center, the office for which is at East Washington and South Broadway streets, asking for a waiver from the two-hour parking limit for staff and volunteers. After some discussion, it was determined that he would respond back to the organization to mention some options for parking across the street or behind that building. Councilman Patrick Gaunce said it would set a precedent, and then others would expect the same treatment.
No other action was recommended.