Port Royal seeks to replace fire truck stolen, damaged

emoody@beaufortgazette.comAugust 7, 2013 

The Port Royal Fire Department has been using this reserve vehicle until a new one can be purchased. The original was stolen in 2012 by a man who killed a pedestrian and totaled the truck.

ERIN MOODY — Staff photo Buy Photo

  • Council also discussed:

  • The annexation and zoning of 508 Broad River Boulevard. No plans have been submitted for development of the property. A first vote is expected next week.

  • The transition of trash pick up from a town service to Waste Pro, a process which is already under way. The town recently signed a contract with the company. Town manager Van Willis said it is going well overall, although some issues are still being worked out.

  • Sewer and drainage issues and projects in the town.

  • Renovations and additions to the Police Department building at 1748 Paris Avenue . Designs are finished and have been sent out for detailed engineering drawings. Once those are back, the town expects to know more about the cost. Work could begin as early as October and is expected to take six months.

  • Renovations to the Shrimp Dock, for which the town recently hired a new manager. In addition to fixing up the building, the shrimp market is being set up and issues with abandoned and/or non-moving boats are being dealt with.

  • Work at a cemetery on Hillside Court, which residents want added to the National Register of Historic Places. The S.C. Department of Transportation has offered dirt to fill in a sink hole there and the town said it could assist with moving that dirt.

Port Royal could get a new firetruck to replace one stolen by a man who struck and killed a pedestrian with it last year.

A decision on the purchase could come as soon as next week, Port Royal officials said during a Town Council work session Wednesday night. Council has a voting meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Town Hall.

In February 2012, Kalvin Hunt, then a Marine, fled Naval Hospital Beaufort, stole Engine 5 and struck and killed Justin Nicholas Miller, 28. Hunt was charged with murder, two counts of resisting arrest, six counts of hit and run with injuries, first-degree assault and battery, and grand larceny.

Insurance and legal issues had to be resolved before the town could replace the truck.

Insurance estimates said it would cost $275,000 to repair the vehicle and subsequently declared it a total loss.

The manufacturer said it had seen vehicles with worse damage and did not deem it a total loss, Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department Chief Sammy Negron said.

A new, identical truck would cost $650,000 today, he said.

The town and the department have requested bids, due Monday, for a triple-combination pumper truck that is not identical to the truck lost.

Both hope to pay between $400,000 and $450,000. A similar truck, the last the department purchased, cost $387,000 in 2010 and would cost about $437,000 today, Negron said.

The engine that was damaged was purchased in the mid 1990s to replace Engine 4, which was not designed for heavy duty use and quickly showed signs of wear and tear.

"So Engine 4 was enjoying retirement when the accident happened and we had to put it back in service," Negron said.

However, its age is again showing and the truck is frequently down for repair. When that happens, an engine must be borrowed from another station, Negron said.

"It's been doing the best it can, but it's an old truck and systems fail," he said.

The department is still deciding what to do with Engine 5, but the intent is to sell it and use the proceeds toward the new truck.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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