By David Meade
During the Council meeting Monday, Williamston Fire Chief Steve Ellison reported that members of the fire department have traveled to Atlanta to inspect a new brush response truck the department is purchasing.
Ellison presented a slide show of work on the truck and chassis which was built in Kentucky. The truck is now in Atlanta where final paint and equipment is being added.
According to Ellison, fire department members can watch progress online as the equipment bed is painted this week and is installed on the four door F550 Diesel truck. The truck will have a pump and hose mouted on the bed, a winch and brushguard on the front and other equipment. Used airpacks purchaed by the department are already with the vehicle, Ellison said.
The town’s old brush truck, which was purchased used in 1998 for $15,000, was sold to another fire department for $12,000. Ellison said he didn’ t have to put the truck out for bid because it was purchased by another fire department. Chief Ellison requested Council allow the department to use the funds received for the old truck to replace a Chevrolet Tahoe currently being used to transport firefighters to training and other meetings. He also stated the older vehicle could be transferred to the Williamston Police Department to be used as a forensics vehicle.
Mayor Mack Durham said, “I am very excited to see this new addition and the stewardship of you and your department.”
Ellison also reported that the department received a reimbursement of $1700 for reprograming 800 mghz narrowband radios which he said his firefighters were able to do. He requested the department be allowed to keep the funds for their use.
Ellison said the department has applied for another FEMA grant and that the WFD had been awarded grants seven of the ten years the program has been in existence. Ellison said the FEMA grant program had received $360 million for a number of years, but this year the total was cut in half by the current administration to $168 million. “It will be tough to get a FEMA grant this year, Ellison said. “We will try.”
Wiliamston Police Chief Tony Taylor said the police department, fire department and EMS had taken on a partnership to work together. He said the police department in the process of putting policies and training in place.
Taylor said he is working to make the department a professional organization. He also said the department is reading for a police citizens academy which will have 20 slots open to members of the public who would like to know what is involved in policing.
“We will answer a lot of questions of why we do what we do,” Chief Taylor said. Taylor said the program will cover everything officers do from reading rights and warrants, technical aspects and the Constitution, budgeting, finances and other highlights of the job.
Taylor said the department is also organizing and staffing a volunteer and a reserve program.
Councilman David Harvell, who chairs a committee on public safety, reported he and others attended the recent training scenario involving an active shooter and observed the coordinated training of fire, ems and police.
He said he also attended a Homeland Security training class which included planning and information on clearing explosive devices and other topics.
Williamston EMS Director Joe Barr said said that his department and the other public safety departments are protecting folks of Williamston. “It is getting more dangerous as we go,” Barr said. “We are learning from past mistakes and experience that the closer we work together the better. The emergency industry is at a point in our nation where we have to do that.”