JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
BURNET — The Burnet Fire Department is reaching new heights, and not just figuratively. The department recently added a truck to the bay with a ladder that measures 100 feet.
The truck gives the department a big tool in not just fighting fires but other emergencies, including water rescues in which firefighters can extend the ladder to get people to safety.
City officials have known for a number of years a new truck was needed because of the ages of others. The department owns one that is 21 years old and another that’s 29. While the trucks “look nice, pretty and shiny and work OK,” City Manager David Vaughn said their ages forced officials to look for better options.
In May, the city council approved the purchase of the ladder truck for $1.1 million. Repairs and upgrades to the older trucks could easily hit the $500,000 to $600,000 mark.
To help pay for the new truck, the Burnet Economic Development Corp. pledged $200,000, and Emergency Services District No. 7 pledged an additional $126,000. The Burnet City Council previously approved $300,000 for the purchase for a total of $626,000.
Vaughn said the remaining balance of $474,000 will come out of the 90-day reserves, where the city borrows money from itself and pays itself back.
When he considered the options of replacing parts of the old trucks with new ones versus buying a new truck, Vaughn said a new truck was the way to go.
“It was in the best long-term interest of our city,” he said.
The city isn’t mothballing the other trucks. They’re still valuable members of the department, Vaughn said.
“The trucks still work, and they’re useful units that should not be primary units,” he said. “I think after 21 years, it’s time. We needed to do something.”
The Burnet Fire Department serves the city but also assists other Highland Lakes agencies when needed.
“We provide mutual aid for responses throughout the city and county,” Vaughn said. “It’s a great arrangement where we’re able to help tremendously. You always see they’re always willing to help each other.”
Firefighters will have to be trained on how to operate the truck, Vaughn said. The training will be conducted by the Texas Engineering Extension Service.
The city will host a public ceremony at the fire department in the near future to give residents an up-close look at the truck.
Part of the ceremony is the “fire department pushing the trucks into the bay,” Vaughn said.
“In the fire world, that’s a big deal, a first for our community,” he said. “I hope people really understand the meaning. We’re going to have some type of open house. This truly is the community’s truck.”