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— Turnout gear is essential to safety for firefighters, city officials agreed.

“You can’t put a value on a life,” Bob Cottingham, council member, said. “It’s a necessity they can’t do without - justlike police without a bulletproof vest.”

But, how to pay for that gear was the question.

Turnout gear includes bunker coats and pants, fire helmet and boots, all of which protect the firefighters’ from the flames and heat when fighting a fire.

The question was answeredat the regular City Council meeting last week as council members unanimously approved funding the request, but did not specify out of which account the funds would come.

“We’ll get you funding,” Nadine Telgemeier, councilmember, said.

“You need this. You came to us for it. Let’s make it happen,” John Cody, council member, said.

Fire Chief Frank Rizzio met earlier this month at the fire station with city officials to present his request and discuss funding options.

The turnout gear, priced within a package of a larger purchase through area fire departments, is expected to cost $48,000.

Rizzio told city officials that a mass order including Fayetteville, Springdale, Bentonville and Rogers fire departments will lower the costs.

The Pea Ridge Fire Department recently received a $10,000 donation from Wal-Mart Foundation, $6,000 of which is dedicated to the purchase ofturn-out gear.

At the council meeting Tuesday, Nov. 17, it was agreed money would come from the Fire Department’s portion of impact fees and savings accounts as well as a portion from the city general account.

Sandy Button, city recorder/treasurer, suggested some of the Act 833 money being set aside to repay a loan for a truck purchase be used.

“That’s not really a bad plan, but I would just assume we would take care of the truck and have these fine people take care of the rest,” Rizzio said, referring to the council members.

“I think everybody’s on the same page,” Mayor Jackie Crabtree said. “Let’s use the impact fee monies and monies that are available in other accounts.”

Present at the informal meeting in the fire station were Rizzio, Crabtree, Telgemeier, Cottingham and Cody.

In other business, Rizzio told council members he had advertised for a company to handle the billing for the ambulance department.

Council members approved Rizzio contracting with Trinity Medical Billing from Springdale.

At the meeting Friday, Nov. 13, Rizzio, referring to city employees at City Hall, said: “The ladies downtown have done a lot of work for us. I’m all for taking the burden off of them. We’re all for making it as automated as we can.”

Trinity would charge 6.5 percent of the income received.

News, Pages 1 on 11/25/2009

Print Headline: Firefighters’ turnout gear approved

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