Athens Fire Department will soon buy a new “jaws of life” rescue tool that could save lives. The department will also buy 12 new sets of turnout gear — the safety clothing firefighters wear during fires.
The Fire Department — along with the departments of Police, Streets and Public Works, Sanitation, Information Technology and Courts — have been allowed to spend a $500,000 city budget surplus from fiscal 2013.
City Council members agreed during their regular meeting Monday to give the departments the following amounts to be spent on capital expenditures:
• Fire Department — $64,000
• Police Department — $64,000
• Streets and Public Works — $182,500
• Sanitation — $88,000
• Information Technology — $100,000
• Court — $1,500
Department heads reviewed their spending plans with council members during the meeting.
Fire Chief Tony Kirk said the new jaws tool, which would cost about $31,784, is electrohydraulic rather than hydraulic, which makes it more powerful and more portable than the hydraulic counterpart, which is heavier and requires a separate power unit and hoses. The “e-draulic” tool uses an onboard battery pack.
East Limestone Volunteer Fire Department recently bought an “e-draulic” jaws tool. The new tools are powerful enough to cut through the multiple layers of metal used in new cars, Kirk said. This is more difficult with hydraulic tools, which could hinder quick rescue time, he said.
Police Chief Floyd Johnson said his department will buy, along with other equipment, three new chairs for dispatchers, 15 fire extinguishers for patrol cars, and a second speed trailer, which is the trailer you see about town with a digital readout of your speed.
Councilman Joseph Cannon asked whether the unit would have metrics that would allow officials to determine, for example, what time of day most people are speeding. Council members seemed to support this concept, so Johnson said he would inquire as to how much that option would cost.
The Streets and Public Works Department will buy a dump body for a dump truck, a pothole patch machine that will use hot mix, rather than cold, to make repairs, a new sand and salt spreader, a snow plow for the city’s dump trucks, a side-arm tractor, bucket sign truck, drill press mill and steel cutter, and a mosquito spraying machine.