Members of the Barron City Council agreed Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, to look for support for the purchase of a new personnel carrier for the Barron-Maple Grove Fire Department, after a presentation by Fire Chief Mike Romsos.

Romsos asked the council for its financial support, which would amount to half of the cost for a replacement vehicle. He said he had received a verbal commitment for another fourth of the cost from the town of Barron, but is still waiting to hear from the town of Maple Grove, which is also part of the fire department’s service area.

The existing vehicle was purchased from a suburban Indianapolis fire department in 2013. The 1991 Frontline Spartan was driven back to Barron from Indiana by local firefighters.

But problems with the vehicle’s chassis have made it nearly impossible to keep on the road, Romsos told the council.

“We have guys who will run into burning buildings, but they do not want to ride in that truck,” he said.

When it was acquired, the truck replaced a used school bus that was damaged in an accident. It provided the Fire Department with a “cascade system,” which allows firefighters to re-fill 25 to 30 oxygen bottles on the scene of a fire call. It also has exterior lights, which increase the department’s portable lighting capacity – a big plus for night calls in rural areas.

Romsos said the estimated cost of a used personnel carrier is somewhere between $225,000 and $250,000.

“We need it for fires, accidents, search and rescue,” Romsos said. “The trend is getting more away from fires and more toward accidents, searches, medical assists and grain bin rescues.”

The personnel carrier has features that make it a valuable asset for the assortment of calls made by local firefighters, he added.

Grass and brush fires are going to present a challenge this coming spring because of all the dead trees and limbs from last July’s wind storm, Romsos told the council.

“The spring … is going to be a nightmare,” he said. “If there’s a grass fire, the county is going to page two or three departments because storm damage has left a lot of fuel lying on the ground,” he said.

Council member Mike Dietrich asked if any outside aid or funding might be available to help out this spring.

Romsos said he is aware of a plan by the Department of Natural Resources to “go onto private property to help with outdoor fires.”

DNR aircraft, bulldozers and personnel could be made available if the need arises, he added.

Later in the meeting, the council declined to sign a lease agreement with Barron Golf Club, Inc., the organization that operates Rolling Oaks Golf Course.

There were differences of opinion about finances, and about the lease agreement calling for the Golf Club to take ownership of some equipment at the course.

Mayor Ron Fladten said the lease agreement would not include any discussion of a possible liquor license for the golf course.

But the council also debated whether the agreement between the city of Cumberland and a group that operates its golf course – and has a liquor license -- could work in Barron.

After the council declined to consider the lease agreement, council member Rod Nordby made a motion to study a revised lease agreement with review by Andrew Harrington, city attorney. The council approved.

In a golf course-related action, the council also agreed to spend up to $19,170 as its share of a $44,179 landscaping project to improve the 16th green at Rolling Oaks.