After Galion Treasurer Paula Durbin declined to sign a check for payment for a new $695,000 aerial fire truck for the Galion Fire Department, fire officials were worried about what would happen if a fire took place in the next few days.
A fire did happen in the city Sunday morning and Fire Chief Phil Jackson said they were “lucky” to be able to fight it without the new truck.
Firefighters responded to a commercial fire alarm around 6:32 a.m. Sunday morning at Covert Manufacturing, 328 East St., Galion.
Jackson said the fire was reported in a records room.
“We arrived at 6:37 a.m. to find heavy smoke venting from the roof in the rear of the building.,” he said. “We initiated an interior attack and was able to knock the fire down and contain it to the room of origin. We also worked from the room and from ground ladders to minimize spread and damage. The business has sprinklers and is well maintained which helped our efforts tremendously. The cause of the fire is still under investigation at this time.”
Jackson said damage estimates were at $20,000 for the building, $10,000 for contents.
Durbin told city officials on Thursday that she wouldn’t sign the check without proper documentation and said the contract cannot be signed until appropriations are in place. City officials said that City Council had originally approved the purchase in 2013 through state appropriations, the truck was ordered in 2014 and was supposed to be picked up Thursday.
Without the signature, the Fire Department was unable to pick up the truck Thursday and Durbin also declined to sign the check Friday, which led to fire officials not having the truck.
“I have to admit that I took a deep breath and said a little prayer when I got the call, that the events of the past few days (refusal to sign check for the ladder truck) doesn’t come around and bite us.” Jackson said . “Someone was looking out for us today. The fire was in one of the rare places at Covert Manufacturing that ground ladders would have worked. 30 foot to the left or right or a bit deeper into the building, and we’re in big trouble without that ladder truck.
“Having that truck as soon as possible isn’t only about safety of our firefighters and residents, it also is about protecting our largest businesses and employers properly as well as having enough pump capacity to extinguish a larger fire. I don’t care how it’s done, but the City Treasurer needs to find a way work with the city to get this truck here now, not next week. We can then spend all the time she wants addressing her issues about things that happened 11 months ago afterward.”
Pugh is the Group Content Editor for the Galion Inquirer, Bellville Star, Morrow County Sentinel and Knox County Citizen. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @pughcivitas.