The Farmington City Council agreed to buy a new fire truck and took another step in bringing fiber optic service to the area when it met in regular session Monday night at city hall.
After the council unanimously approved the fire truck purchase without discussion, City Administrator Greg Beavers explained the difficulties the city now faces when buying new fire trucks.
“First, we have two mainline pumpers — those are our big pumper trucks — and then we have a mini-pumper that our medical response crew uses,” he said. “Our program for fire apparatus replacement has been that we buy a new truck, and then we’ll operate it, typically, for about eight years. Then we send it back to the manufacturing company for a frame-up rebuild. They’ll rebuild the components. They’ll build everything back in. That’s about half the cost of a new pumper, and we get another eight years out of it. A couple of things have happened to us that have interrupted our scheduled replacement program. Foremost is that Pierce Manufacturing has shut down its rebuild operations. They don’t even offer that service anymore. So, where we had intended to do a rebuild in the coming year, that is no longer an option to us.
“Second, the lead time right now on fire equipment is 38 to 42 months. The third component of that problem is that a fire truck that six or seven years ago, or even nearer than that, would have cost us $850,000 or thereabouts, is now priced at a million four-and-a-half for the equipment. So, it’s kind of a financial hit from a lot of directions. The other problem that’s unsaid is that we won’t take delivery of a new truck for three years. The equipment that we have is going to start getting pretty tired by the end of that three years. If Pierce doesn’t decide to reopen its re-manufacturing shop, probably in a year or a year-and-a-half, we’ll have to order another pump to get back in the cycle. I’m a little concerned that the two main pumpers that we utilize — by the time we take delivery of the new equipment — we’re going to start seeing some maintenance issues, but we’ll do what we need to do to make sure that they keep in good operating order.”
Earlier in the meeting, long-time Farmington Fire Chief Todd Mecey presented his last annual report to the city council, in light of his upcoming retirement June 2 after 34 years with the fire department. According to the chief, his department responded to 3,314 incidents in 2022, a figure he described as being “up drastically” from the number of incidents in 2021.
“Part of that is, we still have some COVID protocols in place the first couple of months of the year,” he said. “I think, you know, we’re kind of at that 3,300, 3,400 call year mark. The community continues to grow and so will our call volume, but that seems to be a good average of where we’re at. By comparison, you can see it follows the same trend it pretty much has over the past 10 years.
“Other than that, we have continued to get a little busier throughout the entire day. We can see this year really peaked right there in the middle of the day where we’ve had some variance in years past. But overall, as [the city] continues to grow, we are seeing a little more on the all-in 24-hour average on calls.”
The council approved a resolution allowing Mayor Larry Forsythe to enter into an agreement with Big River Broadband to let the city use utility poles to provide fiber-optic broadband service in the area.
“Communication companies want to use those poles, but they’re required by the federal government to execute a pole attachment agreement with us,” City Administrator Beavers said. “So, what’s going on right now is that there’s a rush in the market for people to build out communities with fiber optic network capability to every business and home in a town. We have a standard pole attachment agreement that is based on a public utility alliance model agreement.”
According to Beavers, the city has now approved agreements with three different companies.
“We approved it with Socket Technologies, Aptitude Internet — which, of course, is a local company — and then last night we approved one with Big River Broadband. So, each of those three companies are planning to come into Farmington and start building a fiber optic network,” he said. “They’ll be partially on our poles, partially in our right-of-way barrier, because about 45% of our system, or more, is underground. Each of them pretty much has the same stated goal, although they’re approaching it from different parts of town — to have fiber-optic broadband available to your home.
“Now, what that means to a person is this — if you’re with a cable TV provider and you’re getting service through a coax cable, you may be getting 350 megabytes of download speed. On a fiber optic, you can expect 10-gig service. You can have 10-gig [upload] and 10-gig [download]. It’s the future need for data because, as you know, the average home has a wireless router and any number of connected devices, from alarm systems to security cameras, to your cell phones that are using your Wi-Fi at home, to laptops and iPads and Chromebooks for the kids or anything — even your refrigerator, you know, if you connect to the Wi-Fi. So, that need is going to be ever-increasing.”
In other actions by the council:
• A requested zoning change for a residence at 501 Memorial Drive from “R3 residential single-family” to “OP-1: Office and Professional” was rejected. After holding a lengthy discussion at an April 13 public meeting, property owners Chase and Macy Busenbark could not convince a majority of the city council to approve the change that would have allowed the property’s use as office space. Once the vote was taken, only Ward 4 Councilman Garett Boatright voted in favor of the change.
• A street festival agreement between the city and Blues, Brews & BBQ 2023 was approved. Other resolutions passed by the council appointed Joseph Braun II to the city’s Building Code Advisory Board; authorized the mayor to enter into an agreement with Townsend Tree Service Co. for tree and shrub trimming and removal; and amended the compensation plan for part-time city employees.
• Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Candy Hente gave the council an overview of Country Days 2023, which is taking place June 2-4 in downtown Farmington. She also provided demographic and other information about the turnout at Country Days in previous years. According to data collected by the company Placer AI, in 2019, County Days had 28,500 people in attendance. Last year, there were 34,000 in attendance. The average age of those attending the event in 2022 was between 35 and 39 years old. Most of them were Farmington residents with a higher-than-average income.
• In legislation, the board approved the annexation of 1100 S. Jefferson St. into the city.
Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-783-9667 or email@example.com