Cambridge Fire to add Polaris Ranger to its arsenal

To better serve wildland firefighters or technical rescues in remote areas, the Cambridge Fire Department is moving forward with the purchase of a Polaris Ranger 800 UTV.

During the Cambridge City Council meeting June 17, Cambridge Fire Chief Sean Okerlund explained the department has been looking at purchasing a Polaris Ranger 800 UTV, or utility vehicle, for the past 18 months.

Okerlund said the department has been offered a demo unit for $15,000 that comes with a full factory warranty. The unit was originally more than $32,000 when built in 2011 and has just over 300 hours on it. It has the ability to carry a patient in the basket carrier and also put wildland fires out via the onboard water tank and foam system.

Okerlund added it’s equipped with a cab, emergency lighting and a winch that can be mounted on the front or the rear of the Ranger.

“I think this is a wise thing to pursue,” Okerlund said. “It’s definitely a wise move and will serve many rescues with technical purposes. It’s really a multipurpose vehicle.”

Following discussion, the council authorized the purchase of the Polaris Ranger 800 UTV from North Way Sports for $15,000.

Okerlund said funding would come from the Fire Department capital fund. The townships also contribute to the capital improvement fund through their fire protection contracts with the city.

“We’ve gotten all positive feedback from the townships regarding this purchase,” Okerlund said. “We have notified the townships of our interest in the Ranger and we have had nothing but thumbs-up to go ahead with the purchase. They see the benefit that this could have for their areas, and the price that we can get into it for is half the cost of building a new one.”

Okerlund explained the department could utilize the Ranger in wildland fire fighting and technical rescue in remote areas that otherwise may be impossible to get equipment and manpower to in a timely manner.

“The possibilities we can use this piece of equipment for are endless,” Okerlund added.

Public Works equipment purchases

Public Works Director Steve Wegwerth provided a list of equipment scheduled to be replaced or added to the streets, parks and airport departments. All the items presented were budgeted items.

Streets: Wegwerth said the department is going to replace a 1998 Dodge pickup due to high maintenance cost. The budget amount is a not to exceed $12,000 with trade in.

With the additional maintenance areas all around the city, Wegwerth noted the department runs short of vehicles covering all the areas. The department will be purchasing a used pickup for seasonal help with a budget amount not to exceed $8,000.

He also mentioned the department will be purchasing a Tommy Lift gate for an amount not to exceed $3,500. The equipment mounts to the back of a pickup to aid in loading materials and equipment and was a recommendation from the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance as a way to help reduce strains and lifting injuries.

Parks: The department is going to replace a 2003 John Deere 1445 mower with a snow blower and broom for an amount not to exceed $38,000 with trade in. Wegwerth explained the equipment runs five days per week in the summer mowing the parks and is also used for sidewalk snow removal.

Airport: Wegwerth said the department will be purchasing a Sweepster broom. He explained the equipment attaches to a front-end loader and is used to clear rocks, sand and debris in the summer. It is used in the winter to clear light snow from the runway and other paved surfaces. He said the equipment will aid in ice control of the runway by eliminating snow melt refreeze.

Wegwerth said the budget amount is $32,000, but during his spring meetings with the FAA, they agreed to fund the equipment at a 90/10 split, bringing the city’s cost to $3,200.

Fire on the Rum update

Although final figures weren’t available yet, Okerlund provided a brief update on the Fire on the Rum music festival held June 15 at the Isanti County Fairgrounds in Cambridge.

“The event was a success,” Okerlund said. “Going into this, we heard most events lose money the first year, but we didn’t lose any money on this. Overall, it went well.”

He said all the musical performances went well, and the Patriot Ride also brought riders into the event.

“The feedback we’ve gotten from everyone has been really good,” Okerlund said. “We also heard that two of our platinum sponsors want to be back again next year. The vendors also stayed busy.”

Okerlund said due to the high number of Patriot Ride participants, the entire Fleet Farm parking lot was filled, with overflow parking spilling into the Kohl’s parking lot.

The council members praised Okerlund for his efforts.

“I applaud you on the excellent job you did,” said Council Member Howie Lewis. “The bands were good, the people were good. It was very well organized.”

Council Member Lisa Iverson echoed Lewis’ thoughts.

“From the bottom of my heart, there isn’t a word to describe how well you guys did with the planning and carrying on of the entire event,” Iverson added.

In other action the council:

• Approved a conditional use permit for the Minnesota Department of Transportation to allow for truck repair, service, garage and outdoor storage. MnDOT will be moving its existing facility from the current site at 210 Emerson St. N. to 1602 Kennedy St. N. The new location is approximately 8 acres. The proposal is to build a new maintenance building for their trucks, a salt shed, brine building and covered bunkers.

• Met in closed session to develop an offer on the property at 210 Emerson St. N.