Bellefonte Borough Council approves purchase of $600,000 fire engine

mmorgan@centredaily.comOctober 7, 2013 

— The borough is getting more help when it comes to fighting fires.

Borough Council approved the purchase of a new fire engine at its meeting Monday, for an amount not to exceed $600,000. The new vehicle will be used to phase out an old engine that the borough bought used. That engine is coming to the end of its useful life.

The new equipment will be paid for through a 15-year loan.

Bellefonte Fire Department Chief Tim Schreffler said the new engine will be critical to staying ahead of the curve and combating the fire problem that has cost the borough some of its historic buildings.

“We cannot afford to delay or reduce our pumping capacity in this borough,” he said.

The council vote was unanimous, but the issue did meet some opposition in the work session because there is no written agreement for Benner and Spring townships to continue to help fund the fire service.

Bellefonte’s fire departments also serve both townships and they both help fund the services with an amount agreed on each year among the three parties.

But there is currently no long-term deal in writing.

Councilman Paul DeCusati said it’s disconcerting that there isn’t something official in place because he doesn’t want Bellefonte to get stuck with the entire cost of the purchase.

Though the system has worked fairly smoothly in the past, Borough Council President Frank Halderman echoed DeCusati’s comments, agreeing that there is some cause for concern.

“I’m just worried that we don’t have a commitment from them, and we haven’t been able to get one,” he said.

Borough Manager Ralph Stewart said he would like a more firm contract in place that at least requires notice if one of the townships decides to opt out of the service, but he is optimistic that any problems can be handled and everything will go smoothly.

Walt Schneider, a councilman and the chief of the Logan Fire Company, said he will continue to work with the townships to get a formal agreement in place as soon as possible.

Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.

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