Sparta, Tenn., picks up old city fire truck

The Salem Fire Department’s former 1990 Sutphen ladder truck headed for its new home in Tennessee on Tuesday.

Chief Kirk Young of the Sparta Fire Department, one of his lieutenants and two firefighters traveled nine hours to pick up the used truck they purchased through for a bid of $19,000.

Salem firefighters gave them some pointers about the truck and explained the various controls and features before they left. Young said their current ladder truck doesn’t have water capabilities like this one does. It’s a Seagraves ladder truck from 1979.

His department has three other trucks in the fleet, a 2013 Sutphen pumper and two Pierce pumpers, one from 2001 and one from 2002.

Young said they had been looking for something used that’s been in good service and came to Salem three weeks ago to look at the truck. They liked what they saw, except for the orange color, which he said will be repainted white over red.

Sparta is a city with a population around 5,000 with a combination paid/volunteer fire department. Five paid firefighters work shifts of 24 hours on/72 hours off and they have 22 volunteers.

Salem City Council gave permission for the old ladder truck to be sold after the city purchased a demo 102-foot platform truck which is now in service. When contacted

about the recent sale, Auditor Betty Brothers explained in an email that the old truck was placed on, which she said is an approved method of advertising for bids and entering into contract for the sale of a fire truck.

Items are placed on the site for periods of two weeks. After the first two weeks, there were thousands of hits on the truck, but only one bid of $12,000 which was under the reserve amount and didn’t have to be accepted. The truck was reposted for another two weeks.

The original bid had been placed by the fire department from Sparta, which was interested enough in the truck to drive to Salem to see it in person. Again, the truck garnered thousands of hits but only bid, this time for $19,000 from the department in Sparta.

Brothers said they had indicated they really wanted the truck, but only had a budget of $20,000 to spend. The city accepted the bid of $19,000. Sparta was required to pay a fee of 5 percent of the sale amount, $950, to the website.

The seller also has to pay a fee of 7.5 percent, which totaled $1,425 for the city of Salem.

Brothers said the net amount of $17,575 will go into the city’s capital improvement fund. The city had been hoping for more for the truck, but both she and Chief Jeff Hughes said they got a little bit more than if they had traded the truck in.