North Webster/Tippecanoe Township Fire Department has the best trucks it could ask for, but they need guys to staff the department. This slight dilemma was noted at the Tippecanoe Township Advisory Board meeting Tuesday evening, Jan. 10.
Chris Francis, first assistant chief and township advisory board member, stressed the need for volunteers. “We need them,” he stated. Steve Ward, township trustee, additionally stressed all training would be handled locally. “We have the training facility,” Ward stated. “You don’t need to go anywhere it’s all done here. It’s a great thing for our community.”
The need for volunteers was made after Second Assistant Fire Chief Dave Rensberger stated the department is going to need air packs and canisters in the future. The estimated cost is $26,000. Rensberger stated the problem the department is encountering is the equipment is old and is inoperable with those of other departments. He also stated some of the air tanks have broken. The last purchase of air packs was in 2007, when 12 packs were purchased through a grant. That grant is no longer available.
Concerned, Ward asked if the department had enough packs usable to carry them in emergency situations. While it was noted there are enough air packs, Francis stated there were several failures at the last couple of fires. Rensberger and Francis stressed it is not something that has to be done this minute. It was noted the air bottles cost $700 each and the air pack itself is about $4,300.
Ward suggested the department look at grant possibilities. Rachel Ganter, EMT, offered to help look for grants. It was also noted the K21 Health Foundation has moved away from that style of grants.
During other business the board accepted mowing bids from Josh’s Handyman & Lawn Care Service. The bid, the same as last year, was $320 for North Webster Cemetery, $240 for Mock, 460 for Oak Grove and $40 for Shock. There will be an additional $20 per hour per person for any clean up. Ward noted when the cemetery association started going under, it fell upon the township to come up with money to maintain the cemeteries. “It’s tough on a budget when it’s already stressed,” Ward stated, but added the company has done a great job and watches things, not mowing when it isn’t necessary and doesn’t tear stuff up.
Meeting dates for 2017 were also set. The board approved dates of April 11, Aug. 8, Sept. 12 and Dec. 28 for meetings. The meetings will be at 7 p.m. in the township building.
Additionally the board approved a 38 cent mileage reimbursement rate for use of personal vehicles for township business only. When asked how much is spent in this area, Ward stated it is very little. “It would be nice if we had extra money sitting around to get a vehicle for you too,” Francis noted.
Election of advisory board president and board of finance also took place, remaining status quo. Steve Carter will continue as board president with Francis and Richard Owen serving on the board of finance.
Ward did announce he made a $140,000 payment on the fire truck loan, leaving a balance of $159,000 which he hopes to have paid by the end of 2017.
Members of North Webster Boy Scout Troop 728 attended the meeting to observe the operation of a governmental board. The Scouts were given an overview of the responsibilities of the advisory board — taking care of the cemeteries, fire/EMS departments, and poor relief. Maintaining of the town’s ball diamonds and providing the playground equipment on that ground was also noted a responsibility of the township board. “It’s a good easy ship (to run), not too complicated,” said Ward, noting now and then there are issues.
One question was raised regarding billing for fire calls. It was noted all the department can bill is $500 due to a clause in homeowners insurance policies. “You pay taxes, that’s enough,” said Rensberger. It was noted bills, sent to insurance companies, are sent for accidents on SR 13 and all hazmat calls.
Francis reported he would have the fire department’s year end report in the near future. He is estimating there were 170 fire calls the past year, 20 of which were gas leaks. It was noted that number is up from the previous year.