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Commission partially OKs town fire equipment purchase

Pahrump Town Manager Susan Holecheck was rejected last month on the town’s plan to use its share of a quarter-cent sales tax increase for fire and rescue services, but county commissioners Tuesday signaled a piecemeal approach to such requests, approving $190,000 for a new town pumper truck.

The town requested $380,000 to replace a 2000 and a 2004 pumper truck, but Commissioner Frank Carbone made the motion to approve the purchase of only one piece of equipment.

The Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Service said operating costs increased with common repairs for large expense items on the old trucks, like engines, transmissions and suspension system, they also use an excessive amount of fuel. The trucks had been scheduled to be replaced in previous years, but it was delayed by the downturn in the economy. A mechanical failure in a two-stroke diesel engine brought to the forefront an absolute requirement for reliable front-line pumpers, the PVFRS said. The town planned to acquire two trucks with refurbished apparatus as the cost of acquiring two new fire truck pumpers would cost $1 million.

Holecheck said the town was asked by Nye County last November to draw up a plan to use the increase in the sales tax, which was narrowly approved by voters in November 2006 but wasn’t passed by commissioners until last October. It took effect April 1 though County Manager Pam Webster said there’s a two- month delay on receiving the increased revenue. The Nye County half-cent sales tax increase, which went up from 7.1 percent to 7.6 percent, would go half to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office and half for county fire departments.

The Pahrump Town Board approved a plan in January that would fund three tier I and three tier II emergency medical technicians, new equipment and training.

“At the time we submitted our proposal in January we focused on employees and the reason for that is we have seven openings, three of which are pending arbitration decisions. We have four active volunteers,” Holecheck said. Since January, three of the four volunteers have become full-time EMT/firefighters, she said, but the town hasn’t been able to increase volunteer levels.

The town manager repeated her appeal to commissioners to fund more positions for the busy fire and rescue service.

Holecheck said the PVFRS answered 1,521 responses in 2013 and 6,218 medical calls.

“That’s a total of 7,739. We are generating well over 600 responses per month. Knowing that you’re hesitant to look at staffing levels, we’re focused on the equipment. More of our equipment is over 10 years old. We’re encountering high maintenance,” she said. “It’s not that the equipment isn’t important, it’s just at the time of the proposal we were looking at staffing levels.”

Carbone asked if the equipment that would be retired was good enough to be used somewhere else in the county. Fire Chief Scott Lewis said the fire truck was being used as a trade-in and would probably be too large to use elsewhere.

The existing Pahrump Town Board is scheduled to be dissolved at the end of the year after the Nevada Supreme Court upheld a November 2012 ballot question. Nye County had adopted the Unincorporated Town Government Law, but commissioners Tuesday scheduled a vote July 15 to exempt Pahrump, Amargosa Valley, Round Mountain and Tonopah from the law.

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