School district, fire dept. team up to gain ladder truck

Holmes County School Board and Bonifay Fire Department recently teamed up to solve one anotherÂ’s needs with collective efforts to obtain a ladder truck.

The agencies say the tall stadium lights on football, softball, and baseball fields across the county are expensive to replace and difficult to access.

School Superintendent Buddy Brown says the school board had previously considered purchasing an older, decommissioned fire truck with a tall ladder to replace lights but states the maintenance of such a truck would likely have been expensive and eclipsed the cost savings of having someone else change the lights. Meanwhile, firefighters in Bonifay were conducting surveys on commercial and government buildings in the area when they realized an emergent need: ladder access to the top of the Bonifay K-8 school.

Fire Chief Larry Cook contacted Superintendent Brown, and the two began looking for a truck that could meet both of the organizationsÂ’ needs at minimal cost. Chief Cook says he located a used ladder truck in Des Moines, Iowa that was still in excellent shape and needed only minor repairs. Superintendent Brown then used monies from the sale of old school busses to purchase the truck. That truck is in now Bonifay and will be in service soon.

Brown states that in addition to being a great help in maintaining the school districtÂ’s field and stadium lights, that there is a further benefit of a lower ISO rating for the district.

The truck is property of the school board; however, Cook and Brown worked out a deal in which the school board would lease the truck to the fire department, with the department assuming maintenance and operation costs. In return, the department will make the truck available to service lights at sports facilities across the county, beyond the city of Bonifay. Additionally, the truck will be available to respond anywhere in the county and beyond where ladder access is needed for mutual aid. The department said it also has plans to use the truck for cross-training exercises that will benefit all of the countyÂ’s fire departments.

“We are thankful to Superintendent Brown and all of the members of the board for making this possible,” said Cook. “A ladder truck like this would normally cost well over $500,000, and it was purchased for just $12,000. I look forward to helping our local schools and neighboring departments. We are all in this together to serve our citizens.” 

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