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Guthrie’s only ladder truck broken down; fire chief hoping for tax increase to buy new one

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GUTHRIE, Okla. - The city of Guthrie without it's only ladder truck.

It's been broken down for about a year, and it will stay that way unless the city votes an increase in tax.

A new truck would be about a $1 million.

These types of trucks are used to fight larger fires in larger buildings.

The one they have right now is not only broken down but also a quarter of a century old, meaning they needed a new one yesterday.

"I'm a sub at schools and, if we don't have any fire trucks to put our fires out, we're doomed," said Cynthia Reynolds, a life-long Guthrie resident.

That's how some Guthrie residents feel, and the fire chief agrees.

"Hold your mouth right and cross your fingers," said Chief Eric Harlow, Guthrie Fire Chief. "We're completely relying on mutual aide either form Edmond or Stillwater, and that's only if they can send us a truck."

While the department has trucks, the most important one is 25 years old and broken.

"The system just couldn't keep enough pressure to keep it steady. It was drifting on it's own, moving side to side," Harlow said. "It could become a danger to put our personnel or victims we might be rescuing up on the device."

The solution? To buy a new one with the help of a proposed tax increase - over 15 years to raise $19 million dollars.

"I know it's a lot of money," Harlow said. "It's sticker shock to a lot of folks, and unfortunately it's probably the least used piece of equipment that we have in the fire department but, at the same time, it's one of the most important."

Right now, the sales tax in Guthrie is 8.25 percent.

The proposed increase is 3/4 of a penny, meaning anything you buy in city limits would be charged at 9 percent sales tax.

"We're just kind of crossing our fingers and hoping that nothing happens until we get a new one," Harlow said.

"Our firemen put themselves at stake to trying to save our lives," Reynolds said. "Why don't we give them the proper equipment to do so?"

The increase in tax will also go to sewage improvements, streets and overall quality of life.

The fire chief said, even if the tax passes February 9th, the soonest they could get a new truck would be a year and a half, because it would need to be custom built.