Mount Carmel gets $208K settlement on wrecked fire truck

Jeff Bobo • Aug 25, 2019 at 6:00 AM

MOUNT CARMEL — Following a lengthy debate Thursday and two votes, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen agreed to accept $771 less in insurance money to keep the wrecked fire truck that rolled down an embankment in June.

The Mount Carmel Fire Department’s 2009 KME Spartan fire truck was deemed a total loss following an accident that occurred June 11 on Big Elm Road.

While responding to a vehicular accident, the driver pulled over to let an oncoming vehicle pass. The concrete at the edge of the road gave way, causing the truck to slide off the road and roll down an embankment. 

On Thursday, the BMA was presented with the option of accepting an insurance settlement of $209,549 from Public Entity Partners and give up the truck or receive $208,778 with the city retaining the wreck, and losing $771 in salvage value.

Mayor Chris Jones, who is a former longtime fire chief, said he believes the value of the engine alone far exceeds $771.

Alderman Steven McLain made a motion to accept the option whereby the city keeps the truck, noting that the tires are worth more than $1,000.

Fire Chief Jason Byington told the BMA that there are pros and cons to keeping the wrecked truck.

“We can use the tires that are on it and salvage the light bar, even though it’s 10 years old,” Byington said. “The motor and transmission, from what I’ve been told, would have to be tested because when it rolled all the fluids mixed, so we don’t know what the valves look like in there to be able to salvage it. The downfall is, once we strip it, we’re still going to have to pay the tow bill to get whatever is left of the truck to wherever we want it to go.”

The tow bill to pull the truck up the embankment where it rolled over on Big Elm Road was $25,000, Byington noted.

“I feel like if we keep that truck, and we start stripping it down, it’s going to be dead in the field,” said Alderman Carl Wolfe. “You take the wheels off of it, we’re going to have someone come in there with a big rollback and a crane to lift that up.”

Jones noted that if the city sells the truck on Govdeals.com, it’s the buyer’s responsibility to come get it.

“Let’s look at economics here,” Jones said. “$700 if we give it to the insurance company. If you can’t get $1,000 on Govdeals.com for that truck, we’ve got a problem.”

McLain responded, “If you’ll put it on Govdeals, I’ll give you $3,000 for it today. I’ll bid for it under another name.”

The initial vote on McLain’s motion was 3-3 with Alderman Pat Stilwell abstaining, Jones, McLain, and Jim Gilliam voted yes while Wolfe, Vice Mayor Jennifer Williams, and Wanda Davidson voted no.

City Administrator Mike Housewright noted that the insurance company needs a decision this month.

“I don’t want us as a board to have to come back later and pay a big toll fee,” Williams said.

Wolfe said he’d vote to keep it if the fire truck is sold on Govdeals.com and the buyer is responsible for towing.

In the second vote, Wolfe and Williams switched their votes to yes, and Stilwell switched hers to no, for a final vote of 5-2.

The BMA’s Fire Committee hasn’t yet discussed a replacement truck, although Byington stated that he’d like to see a truck similar to the one that was lost added to the fleet.

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