A new, $1.5 million station has sat empty for months, but soon a shiny, nearly new fire truck and a few new firefighters will fill it.
On Wednesday, Aug. 17, the Payson Fire Department will officially unlock the doors on the newest fire station in Rim Country — a long awaited moment after years of planning and pining.
The fire department purchased the gently used Crimson pumper from a South Dakota company using the last of the bond money that paid for a two-bay station off Tyler Parkway and Highway 87 east of Payson.
The $439,000 engine, with another $60,000 in equipment, was the last piece of the puzzle needed to open station 13, which is expected to shorten arrival times for Rim Club and Chaparral Pines residents.
Better able to serve those residents, the town canceled a contract with Hellsgate Fire Department, who will still provide mutual aid when needed.
The $160,000 the town freed up with the end of the Hellsgate contract is going toward the salary of three new full-time firefighters/paramedics.
The department added Morgan Wood and Daniel Giovingo from the Valley and Payson reserve firefighter Andrew Hensley.
Hensley has served as a reserve for the last three years.
Hensley was among a group of firefighters loading the Crimson with new hose and gear.
Battalion Chief Dan Bramble readily highlighted the features of the once demo truck. Although it came with 19,000 miles, the 2009 truck has never been used for fighting fire and so retains that new car smell.
While the department would usually custom design a truck to its specifications, which can take up to six months from design to production, the town was hard pressed to get a truck by August.
With only 60 days, the department quickly searched for an already built engine and found the Crimson online.
Although the truck has less storage space and a smaller cab than its existing engines, the truck features a “multiplexed” electrical control system. From the driver’s seat, a firefighter can control the engine’s lights, locks, performance and other features all from one screen, eliminating the need for a multitude of switches and buttons.
“It is pretty exciting,” Bramble said of the new engine.
The truck came with few extras, so firefighters are outfitting it with hoses and medical and firefighting equipment. Even so, Bramble said they were $20,000 short to get all the equipment they need, so they are shuffling some gear from other trucks.
The department is also shuffling firefighters. With only enough money to add three new firefighters to the payroll, the department is doing some creative rearranging.
Bramble said ideally they would hire nine new firefighters, but instead are utilizing reserves.
Reserves are paid for on call hours, but do not get the fringe benefits of full-time firefighters.
With Hensley off the reserve team, Bramble said the department is always looking for new reserves.
The town was hoping to land a $353,000 federal SAFER grant, which would have covered the needed salaries, but that fell through.
With the new arrangement of reserves, the department should have enough work force for two, three-man crews and one, two-man crew on duty at the three fire stations.
The last fire station opened in town was in 2000.