Fire department gets OK to buy UTV

The city has given approval for Princeton Fire and Rescue to purchase a 2012 Polaris Ranger six-wheel-drive UTV, along with a skid unit with fire-fighting equipment to mount on back, and a 16-foot tandem-axle trailer to haul the UTV, all for just over $24,734.

The Monsanto Fund is donating $2,500 toward the purchase and most of the remaining cost is in the city’s capital improvement program budget.

The $2,500 donation is formally through the America’s Farmers Grow Communities  sponsored by the Monsanto Fund and it works this way: Monsanto customer farmers who enroll in the project have their names registered for a drawing, and the winner gets to name a charity for the Monsanto donation to go to. In this case Brian Orton’s name was drawn for Mille Lacs County and he chose Princeton Fire and Rescue as the charity.

The UTV will cost just over $13,994, while the skid unit with fire-fighting equipment comes to $7,350 and the aluminum trailer, $3,390.

The fire department took bids for the equipment and the winning set of bids were submitted by Bristows in St. Cloud for the Polaris UTV, Fire Safety U.S.A. in Rochester for the skid unit with equipment, and B&L Custom Trailers in Princeton for the trailer.

The second set of bids all came from South Dakota.

The city council approved the purchase at its council study session last Thursday, after getting a presentation from Fire Chief Jim Roxbury. He said the department had been considering making the UTV purchase for the past few years and decided that this spring would be the time to have it with concerns about possibly dry conditions after the snow melt.

The department has already fought several grass fires this winter when there was an absence of snow cover and there is anticipation of a “hopping grass fire season” in the spring, City Administrator Mark Karnowski said.

Roxbury added that the vehicle can be used for hauling someone on a stretcher out of areas difficult for other vehicles to get into during rescue operations. Roxbury also echoed Karnowski’s statement about the spring ahead. After looking at the weather patterns and talking with the DNR, “it’s not looking good out there (in terms of fire danger),” Roxbury said. Therefore, now may be the time to purchase the UTV and have it ready by the spring grass fire season, Roxbury said.

This vehicle might not be the “ultimate” for going through swamps or snow, but it will be a good one overall, Roxbury added.