FALLS CITY – Falls City Firefighter Jon McQueen sold the city council on the need for a new aerial truck at an Oct. 19 meeting and on the fire department’s ability to get it home after a 1,400-mile drive from Burlington, Vermont.

McQueen told the city council that the existing 65-foot ladder truck is 47 years old and, while it has done its job for Falls City, it has not been certified since 2014 and has had 88 repair citations.

He said despite its hydraulics problems the ladder truck saved buildings in the recent Potrillos Mexican Restaurant fire downtown in January of 2018.

McQueen: “That whole block should have been lost. The reason it wasn’t lost was because 65 firemen, two aerial trucks and seven departments worked together. We’re not done with fires like those downtown.”

The city had budgeted this year in hopes of receiving a grant to replace air packs and Mayor Shawna Bindle said air packs are still her priority.


Mayor Bindle: “I’m not in favor of putting air packs to the side to get a ladder truck, so I do want to emphasize that safety comes first. I think we ideally will need both, but do you think you need air packs worse than we need a ladder truck?”

McQueen: “The air packs are a lot newer than that truck. Granted, the truck is rarely used, but when it is, it’s priceless -- lives are at stake, property is at stake.”

The truck in Vermont has a 95 foot ladder and carries water. McQueen said the city might expect to pay $1 million for a new aerial, but he is hoping to drive a used truck home for $70,000.

Council member Derrick Leyden suggested hiring an over-sized hauler to bring the fire truck to Auburn.


Mayor Bindle asked McQueen directly if he could drive the truck across New York State and through Cleveland on the 22-hour trip.

McQueen said he and another person could do it and City Councilman Mitch Merz advised replacing the tires before making the trip, which could include winter weather.


Councilman Lucas Froeschl said it’s time to put the existing ladder truck from 1973 out of service. The 2003 truck in Vermont is currently certified.

He volunteered to help negotiate a price for the sale and McQueen said he would asking for guidance on the best route for the firetruck’s drive to Falls City.