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Firefighters ask town for money for ‘desperately’ needed turn-out gear

Having fought five structure fires in the past seven weeks, Corydon’s volunteer firefighters are extremely conscious of their personal firefighting safety equipment or “turn-out gear.” Fire Chief Kevin J. Barrow said it’s getting old and “desperately” needs to be replaced.
All 10 volunteer fire departments in Harrison County recently got $20,000 each from Caesars riverboat casino revenue via the county commissioners to buy equipment, but Corydon’s department is still about $6,500 short to outfit all 18 volunteers with complete turn-out gear – helmets, coats, gloves, pants, boots, etc. – that meets professional standards.
Barrow appealed Monday night to Corydon’s town council for that amount. Acting on Roy McKim’s motion, the trustees tabled the request to study the very specific list of equipment needs and get a tour of the firehouse Friday at 12:30 p.m. led by Barrow.
Barrow presented a list of gear that each member needs and said it doesn’t matter which vendor supplies it because the costs are the same. “One company can’t undercut the others,” he said, although town council president Fred Cammack questioned that and said the State Board of Accounts would be skeptical of the fire department accepting only one bid. Cammack wanted more time to look in to that.
In a prepared letter, Barrow told the trustees that they would have to assume responsibility if a firefighter were injured or killed because of “old, worn-out” turn-out gear. He encouraged the board to discuss the safety issues with the fire department’s board of directors.
In the last five fires, firefighters have managed to save some buildings and personal belongings inside, and prevented flames from jumping to nearby buildings because firefighters were willing to enter burning buildings at great risk to themselves.
“We can’t keep risking our lives,” Barrow said.
Personal safety equipment should be replaced every five years, he said.
Also Monday night, the trustees considered six bids from three companies for construction of a new water system booster station at the town’s west reservoir next to Hillview Apartments. The new booster station is needed to maintain water pressure for the town’s customers north of the Jay C Food Store and Old Capital Centre and west of S.R. 135.
Barks and Ferree Construction Co. of Central bid $289,684 for a standard, on-site, 17-by-35-foot concrete block booster station, and $264,981 for an alternate, pre-fab, 11-by-24-foot booster station. Infrastructure Systems Inc. of Orleans bid $256,800 and $231,600; Mitchell and Stark Construction Co. Inc. of Medora bid $248,655 and $282,000.
Consultant David Dahl, president of Midwestern Engineers of Loogootee, said comparing on-site concrete block construction booster station and a smaller pre-fab version is not an apple-to-apple comparison. He asked rhetorically whether it was a good idea to opt for a smaller, pre-fabricated building with lesser equipment in order to save $17,000 over the long term.
Cammack, trustee Charles Lynch and water superintendent Walter Smith inspected two pre-fab booster stations in New Albany last week and found them lacking. Dahl, who reviewed the bids, said he preferred an on-site construction substation because of better equipment.
Expressing disdain for just about anything prefabricated, the trustees unanimously selected Mitchell and Stark’s low bid of $248,655 bid for a concrete block booster station. They figure it should last at least 40 years, or long after they have left the town council.
Now that the town has a new seven-bay street department garage, the council also accepted Rosenbarger Excavating’s bid of $2,750 to remove the old town garage behind Town Hall. The other bid was $4,978 by Junior Barks Excavating.