Fire truck fans flames between chief and councillor

South Dundas Fire Chief Chris McDonough, left, got into a tense exchange with Coun. Bill Ewing, right, on April 7, 2015 over the purchase of a fire truck frame. The mayor had to break up the curt back-and-forth. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

SOUTH DUNDAS – Tempers flared between the fire chief and a municipal councillor Tuesday night over buying a quarter million dollar fire truck chassis.

The department is looking to replace its 1990 pumper as part of its regular fleet replacement.

Fire Chief Chris McDonough told council he was able to find a new $224,000 chassis in Quebec – an order that had been cancelled by the Halifax fire department.

McDonough says the move to sole source the purchase (no go out for bids) would save the municipality about $20,000.

The chief also warned that if the township waited for bids (a process than could take up to nine months) it could end up costing the municipality more as any chassis order would come from the United States. “If we wait to order a chassis with the U.S. dollar where it’s going, I probably think you’re going to add another five per cent…because the (Canadian) dollar’s not coming back up,” the chief said.

But Coun. Bill Ewing took him to task, picking apart the potential purchase and zeroing in on frame adjustments and several technical aspects. While talking to McDonough, Ewing did not face the chief.

“I’m of the opinion that we budgeted to buy a complete unit,” Ewing said. “I know you say it’s part of the Fire Master Plan. We have not approved the Fire Master plan. We have not approved the Fire Master Plan as of yet –”

“Can I stop there for a minute?” the chief interjected.

Mayor Evonne Delegarde then jumped in, breaking up the curt exchange. “Just hold on guys, hold on. That’s it! Okay? No more!,” she said.

McDonough later conceded that some modifications will have to be made to the chassis which will eat several thousand dollars out of the potential savings (overall savings could be ~$17,000).

Coun. Archie Mellan also wanted to see the price for a complete unit. McDonough says it would be roughly $420,000. Adding the tank and pump to the chassis purchase ($224,000) would cost about $108,000.

In the end, council approved the purchase.

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