Final decision on fire engine donation to Neihart set for Tuesday

On Tuesday, the City Commission will make a final decision on whether to donate a decommissioned fire engine to the City of Neihart.

The proposal was initially approved on first reading by the commission in September and they set a public hearing on the donation for Oct. 3.

“It was the right thing to do.” -GFFR Chief on loaning retired fire engine to Neihart

Great Falls Fire Rescue loaned the 1989 Ford L9000 to the Neihart Volunteer Fire Department in July, after Neihart told the city that they were in dire need of a fire engine.

Neihart VFD told the city they had no financial means to purchase a new or used fire engine and the apparatus in question no longer meets GFFR’s needs and should have been retired in 2009, according to Fire Chief Steve Hester.

The city replaced some of their older fire engines this year, moving some of those front line engines to reserve status and retiring the oldest yellow reserve trucks.

City plans to donate unused fire engine to Neihart Volunteer Fire Department

The Neihart VFD is made up of 16 volunteers and they have a 1970 fire engine hand-me-down from GFFR, according to Chief Scott Herzog.

Hester and the city’s vehicle fleet manager have determined that if the city sold the fire engine, its value is estimated at less than $4,000, but “the engine’s value to the community of Neihart is priceless.”

Staff has researched the resale options of the fire engine and found no other apparatus for sale of this age and condition as comparables. Staff believes it would be difficult to sell.

Staff does plan to sell three other city fire vehicles in the future. Two retired 1990 Laverne fire engines are in varying levels of disrepair and will be sold for parts at an estimated $3,000. The city’s retired ambulance will be sold for an estimated $1,500.

The truck has the pumping capacity to extinguish a structure fire, according to staff and would fill a desperate need in Neihart.

The town resides in the middle of the Little Belt Mountains and has a significant year-round wildland interface risk, especially this year, which was one of the driest on record.

Since the apparatus was loaned to Neihart, there has been an overwhelming response of appreciation, according, to Hester.

The engine was loaned under the Mutual Aid Agreement with GFFR and volunteer agencies in Cascade County. A functioning fire engine in Neihart could also support their ability to respond to other mutual aid requests in the area.