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Council kicks the tires on vehicle needs

POSTED: August 15, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Rincon Police Chief Michael Berry is getting a new vehicle to drive, one he hopes will be more than just his assigned mode of transportation.

Rincon City Council approved a bid from Allan Vigil Ford for a 2009 F-250 pickup and for the truck to be outfitted with an emergency lighting package Monday night for $28,583.

“This is a vehicle we are seeing more and more need for,” City Manager Donald Toms said. “We need a vehicle that can get off road. We were looking at the vehicle because of its heavy duty capacity.”

Because of its size, Berry said the truck and its lights would give the police more visibility at such things as traffic incidents.

Council members queried Berry on how often he might need a four-wheel drive vehicle and on its gas mileage.

“There’s a time and place where it might be necessary,” he said, noting it could help transport officers and equipment over roads that are made dangerous should an event as the Ebenezer tornado strike Rincon.

The truck gets about 15 or 16 miles per gallon, and the department’s Crown Victoria cruisers average 12 miles to the gallon, Berry said.

Berry said one police cruiser is getting long in the tooth for mileage, approaching the 90,000-mile mark. Most police units don’t last longer, or are not kept past, the 120,000-mile mark.

He also said one of the two Dodge Chargers in the police fleet has had problems, and that’s been typical of the Chargers law enforcement agencies purchased. Dodge has addressed some of the problems in later models. The problem Rincon has encountered is with the brakes, and the brakes were changed for the first time after only 700 miles of use.

The department also has two Tauruses, one at 80,000 miles and another at 60,000 miles. Both are in serviceable condition, according to Berry.

The chief also said he has a car for every officer, but there are no leftover cars if one goes down and there isn’t a car available if he hires another officer to the force.

“If I have a car in the shop for an extended period of time, I don’t have a backup,” he said.

Mayor Ken Lee and council members also asked Berry about local vendors for vehicles. Four dealers returned bids on the truck, including Springfield Ford and O.C. Welch Ford. The other was Bobby Jones Ford of Augusta, and Ford has the state contract, Berry said.

“Every opportunity we have to spend on local merchants and businesses, we need to do that,” Lee said.

Council members also approved the purchase of a portable pond and air packs for the fire department. Fire Chief Corey Rahn also advised council members that the department’s brush truck needs to be replaced.

“The idea behind the brush truck is getting off the road,” he said. “Pumpers can’t get off the road.”

Rahn is looking at options for a new truck. He priced a new brush truck, with a 900-gallon tank, at $86,000.

“The one we’ve had has been on its last legs for 10 years,” council member Reese Browher said.

Rahn said he may able to build a brush truck on a used chassis for around $40,000. Currently, his oldest vehicle is Engine 3, a 1979 model with 35,000 miles.

“You’ll never put 100,000 miles on (a fire engine),” he said.

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