The Grand Rapids City Council approved the purchase of a 2020 Rosenbauer Fire Engine and accessory equipment for a total price tag of $599,504.72 during the regular council meeting on Monday, Aug. 12.

As Grand Rapids Fire Chief Travis Cole explained, the department has been working on a replacement plan for the No. 115 Engine for about two years now. The current engine is more than 30 years old.

“It was originally designed to be a 20-year truck, but the department has been able to push it past 30 years,” Cole told the council. 

The price of just the vehicle is approximately $556,000 without necessary added equipment such as axes, hoses, nozzles and such. The city is purchasing it from Rosenbauer Firefighting Technology company. As Cole explained, a fire department committee worked hard to find a truck that would fit the department’s needs for the best cost. 

“We were able to shave off about $300,000” from the original plan, said Cole, who explained that the committee wanted to be certain enough funds remained in the department’s vehicle depreciation fund for the future. 

Earlier in the meeting, Chief Cole gave his department head report and explained that they have responded to 122 calls so far this year which is “on par” with other years for typical call volume. Types of calls include structure fires, car fires, alarm calls, carbon monoxide calls, gas leaks and more. 

The department recently updated its bylaws and have started to serve meals with monthly meetings. A new roof has been installed on the fire hall. 

Approximately two to three times a month, the department completes training drills together on things such as controlled house burns, rope rescues, confined space and practice in emergency extractions.

“These are all helpful to us and surrounding departments,” said Cole as he explained that the GRFD works closely with neighboring community fire departments to make the most of training opportunities. 

The department also participates in many community events throughout the year, such as the Children’s Fair, Polar Plunge, National Night Out and Fill the Boot for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). In fact, last week, Grand Rapids firefighters collected more than $30,000 for MDA in just three days. 

This year, Lance Kuschel was named GRFD Firefighter of the Year and Chad Troumbly was presented with the Chief’s Meritorious Award. 

“We have 29 members on our roster right now,” said Cole. “That’s one shy of a full roster. We’re always looking for more members.”

Cole ended his report adding, “Safety is always No. 1; we’re always looking at getting people home safe.”

In other business, the council: 

• Approved a resolution to accept a $3,000  donation from the Greater Pokegama Lake Association for the Independence Day Fireworks at Pokegama Lake on July 4. 

• Approved a resolution with the FAA to acquire snow removal equipment for the Grand Rapids/Itasca County Airport.

• Adopted a resolution to approve a resolution accepting the donation of $350 from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce to the Grand Rapids Police Reserve Program. 

• Approved donating a vehicle from the Grand Rapids/Itasca County Airport ARFF to the Chisholm/Hibbing Airport Authority. 

• Approved Change Order 1 related to CP 2019-2 Grand Rapids-Cohasset Connection Trail. 

• Accepted the resignation of Lauren Van Den Heuvel from the position of Communication Specialist. 

• Approved the hiring of a seasonal part-time employee at the City of Grand Rapids Park and Recreation Department and the IRA Civic Center. 

• Approved entering into an agreement with area businesses, Ardent Bicycles and Brewed Awakenings, for advertising at the IRA Civic Center. 

• Approved a resolution awarding the sale of $1,585,000 General Obligation Bonds, Series 2019A.

• Authorized staff to advertise the sale of the diesel generator at the Grand Rapids/Itasca County Airport. 

• Entered into an agreement with RC Rentals, LLC of Grand Rapids. 

• Accepted an agreement with the Fire Relief Association Schedule Form for Sum Pension reporting Year 2019, the 2018 Financial Statements and authorities the budget $5,5000 contribution to the Fire Relief Association. 

• Entered into an agreement with Get Fit Itasca via Itasca County Family YMCA for a community bike share program and informational kiosks.

• Adopted a resolution accepting a donation from Get Fit Itasca via YMCA in an amount of $27,640 for the purchase of a public sculpture, two decorative benches and the placement of an informational kiosk to be located at the new Mississippi River Pedestrian Bridge. 

• Approved a resolution accepting the donation of $300 from Meds 1 Ambulance Service, $250 from the Blandin Foundation, $50 from Benders Shoes, $200 from John Dimich, $475 from the FOP Lodge No. 24 Auxiliary, $100 from Ross Resources, two bikes from Ray’s Sport and Cycle, two bikes from Walmart, two bikes from the Fraternal Order of the Police Lodge, one bike from the Phil Windorski Memorial Foundation, one bike from Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, and helium for balloons (valued at $220) from Rapids Welding for National Night Out held Aug. 6, 2019. 

• Approved a temporary liquor license for St. Joseph’s Church on Sept. 7, 2019.

• Entered into a lease for a photo copier for the fire department. 

• Entered into an agreement with Zix for email security and encryption services. 

• Approved a recommendation from the Arts and Culture Commission to participate in a downtown mapping project. 

• Adopted a job description for the Building Maintenance position. 

• Adopted a resolution approving a Preliminary Development Agreement between the city, the Grand Rapids EDA and Unique Opportunities, LLC, of Fergus Falls to build a 48-unit apartment complex complete with underground parking, workout room, community room and shared balcony. The developer will seek TIF in an amount needed to create a viable project. All 48 units will be market rate with the exception of TIF requirements. The property is approximately three acres located in northwest Grand Rapids. Property purchase price is $175,000, consistent with available sales within the city of Grand Rapids. 

• Authorized the Public Works/Engineering Department to solicit quotes for maintenance of the Horn Bridge. According to Grand Rapids City Engineer Matt Wegwerth, the project is estimated to cost $75,000 with work to begin in September. Wegwerth said the bridge will remain open during construction. City Administrator Tom Pagel explained that the last time the Horn Bridge was updated was in 1999.

• Approved the purchase of replacement police squad mobile computers.

• Appointed Gary DeGrio to the position of Hospital Security Officer Lead.

• Approved verified claims of $844,169.77 for the period of July 16 - Aug. 5, 2019.

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