By LeAnn R. Ralph
BOYCEVILLE — For the past several months, members of the Boyceville Community Fire District have been debating about whether to purchase another utility terrain vehicle or to fix one of the brush trucks.
The Boyceville fire district approved at the July 15 meeting replacing the engine on the fire department’s 1978 brush truck for $2,600 plus the cost of labor.
At the May meeting, fire district members had asked Brian Marlette, fire chief, to research prices for a new Utility Terrain Vehicle to use for fighting fires to replace the brush truck that was badly in need of engine repair.
Marlette had told the fire board that a UTV would be more versatile than a brush truck for fighting brush and grass fires and advocated for purchasing a UTV.
The Boyceville department already has one UTV, which was considered instrumental in fighting a large grass and brush fire near Knapp a few weeks before the May fire district meeting. Because the ground was soft, the brush trucks got stuck in the mud, but the UTV was able to maneuver around the location of the fire.
Marlette reported at the June 10 meeting that the cost for a 2016 Polaris Ranger would be $12,500. An aluminum trailer for the UTV would cost $4,700. And the “skid unit” on the back of the Ranger for the pump, water tank and hose reel would be $7,860.
Marlette was unable to attend the July meeting, but Dan Knops, assistant fire chief, reported that additional prices had been obtained for a UTV, ranging from $12,841 to $13,774.
The whole package, for the UTV, trailer and skid unit would be a little over $25,000.
The trailer to the haul the fire department’s existing UTV was covered by a grant from the state Department of Natural Resources, but the grant application deadline was July 1, so the fire department would not be able to apply now for a trailer if the fire district approved buying a UTV, Knops said.
Knops said the fire department had obtained a quote to replace the engine on the brush truck from the Carriage Shop in Knapp for $2,600 plus the cost of labor.
At the June meeting, Russell Hitz, chair of the Town of Hay River, had suggested that Marlette call Polaris directly to see if the department could obtain a UTV without going through a dealer.
Knops reported that he had called Polaris but had been told the fire department would have to go through a dealer.
If a UTV, trailer and skid unit were purchased, the fire department would still have $300,000 in the account, noted Gilbert Krueger, chair of the fire district and Boyceville village president.
Chuck Maves, representative for the Town of Sherman, said he would be more in favor of fixing the existing brush truck.
Mike Blechinger, representative for the Town of Tiffany, agreed.
The cost of $2,600 for fixing the truck compared to $25,000 for a new UTV must be considered against the cost of a new fire station for $1 million, Blechinger said.
“It is easier to reach the goal (of a new fire station) if we are not spending money on other things,” Blechinger said.
Jill Huber, representative for the Town of New Haven, said if the 1978 pickup truck were repaired, it would be worth more later if the fire department wanted to sell it or trade it.
“I want to see the fire hall built. It’s been kicked around for the last 20 to 30 years,” Blechinger said.
The fire department can always sell the old brush truck in two or three years after the fire hall is built and buy a UTV then, he said.
The Boyceville Fire District voted four in favor and two against for replacing the engine on the 1978 brush truck at a cost of $2,600 plus labor.
The Town of Hay River and the Village of Boyceville voted “no” on the motion.
The Towns of New Haven, Stanton, Tiffany and Sherman voted “yes” on the motion.
A representative for the Village of Wheeler did not attend the meeting.