Wednesday’s fire in downtown Butler was the third fire in a little over a year to cause significant damage to a historic building.
It also reignites the Butler City firefighters’ argument that they need a working ladder truck.
Butler City Fire Captain Jim Kaufman said it took about 15 minutes on Wednesday for another department to bring in a ladder truck. Would the damage be less if the city had one?
“It’s a toss up,” Kaufman said. “We would have had sooner access to the roof if we had one. They had to cut numerous holes in the roof to vent it because there was three rooves and that was one of the problems.”
The four captains of the Butler City Fire Department sent Butler City Council a letter last summer calling the ladder truck a ‘crucial’ piece of equipment that helps keeps the citizens of Butler City safe. New Butler Mayor Ben Smith estimates that cost uncertainties for such an expensive vehicle make repair not a feasible option.
“It is pretty far into its life cycle so lets say you spend the money to repair it, it ends up costing more money than expected and they you only end up getting a couple years out of it as an existing truck. It’s probably fiscally irresponsible to do.”
The city has had to rely on neighboring volunteer fire departments to provide aerial coverage, which isn’t always reliable because of staffing shortfalls. The fire truck situation is expected to be further discussed at Monday’s special budget meeting of Butler City Council at 6 p.m.