WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (April 14, 2009) — Members of the Waynesville Rural Fire Board aren’t happy about legislation filed in the Missouri State Senate which, according to Fire Chief Doug Yurecko, would greatly increase the cost to local agencies to clean up fuel spills.
The bill, according to Yurecko, will increase the fuel spill amounts that must be reported to state authorities from 50 gallons to 3,000 gallons, and also eliminate state payments to local agencies to clean up the smaller fuel spills.
“If we have to pay to clean up 2000, 3000 gallons of diesel fuel, that’s going to cost us a lot of money,” Yurecko said. “Essentially what this means is if we go out to a spill on the interstate, we’ll have to pay 75 percent of the cost and get nothing back in reimbursement.”
After learning that the bill was filed by Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, fire board chairman Robert Wait questioned the bill sponsor’s motives.
“He must be getting kickbacks,” Wait said.
Yurecko said the bill won’t only affect crashes on Interstate 44 but also diesel tank spills.
“I sure hope this doesn’t come to pass. We can’t afford it, and a lot of other fire districts have a lot less money than we do,” Wait said.
While the fire district could lose large amounts of money if state government policy on fuel spill reimbursement changes, Yurecko said it appears President Barack Obama’s federal stimulus package may help fire districts such as Waynesville.
“We should be receiving word soon on the stimulus money out there,” Yurecko said. “We’ve always said we need to put a station on Y Highway or out on H Highway somewhere, and if we can get them built for free, why not? It’s free money, so we definitely ought to apply for it.”
Yurecko said if the construction money comes from the federal stimulus package, the main problem faced by the Waynesville fire district won’t be how to pay for a new fire station but rather where to find available land.
Adding new fire hydrants will also be important, Yurecko said, in certain rural residential subdivisions that are rapidly growing such as Equestrian Estates north of St. Robert.
“There are a couple of other places it would be good to put hydrants, but one would be better than none. If there is a builder who would like to donate a little piece of property and provide a hydrant, that would be good,” Yurecko said. “Even though we are having an economic downturn in the construction industry, they are still building out there.”
Responding to questions from Assistant Chief Andy Baker, Yurecko said planned development by the Peach family from Rolla in the Witmore Farms area have been stopped, so the fire district won’t have to deal with additional water supply needs in that area until the project begins again.
Yurecko said Waynesville city staff members have asked him to postpone a planned ISO insurance evaluation to July or August since the city will be taking a water tank and water tower out of service for painting.
“They don’t have a good timeline on it; it depends on what is found. If nothing is found it will be pretty quick; if not, it could be a while longer,” Yurecko said.
March turned out to be one of Waynesville’s busiest months, Yurecko said, with 103 calls. As usual, the highest number of calls were to 18 brush fires, 17 medical assists to ambulance crews, and 13 motor vehicle accidents with injuries. Other major types of calls included eight building fires, six forest or woodland fires and six grass fires, and five motor vehicles crashes that didn’t involve injuries.
“The only month we’ve ever had more runs than that was during the ice storm,” Yurecko said.
Yurecko also read a letter of thanks from the mayor of Kennett in southeast Missouri, where Waynesville and St. Robert firefighters responded on a mutual aid mission to a town that lost its electricity following an ice storm.
Kennett Mayor Roger Wheeler was very complimentary.
“You would have thought that the firefighters had lived here all of their lives,” Wheeler wrote. “They readily adapted to the unlighted environment (except where we had generators), took charge of the fire apparatus as if it were their own and responded to fire and medical emergencies where they demonstrated the highest professional standards.”
“Congratulations, guys; we appreciate it. We really do,” Wait said to the assembled fire crews that had gone to Kennett.