Council authorizes emergency expenses following service department fire

by Melissa Martin

March 5 city council meeting

Brecksville City Council authorized a series of emergency expenses following a Feb. 25 fire at the city’s service department garage.

The building and its contents, including two service department vehicles, tools and other equipment, have been declared a total loss, according to Service Director Joe Kickel.

“It was somewhat of a relief that [the fire] happened in this part of the service building and not in the facility where the vehicles are stored,” Kickel said.

According to reports, the fire was reported at approximately 10 p.m. Upon arrival, fire department crews encountered heavy fire conditions in the area of the mechanics’ bays. Fire Chief Nick Zamiska said the flames were quickly brought under control and the blaze confined to the area of origin.

The fire department was assisted by Brecksville Police, service department members and mutual aid fire companies from Broadview Heights, Independence, Richfield and Macedonia. It took approximately two hours to extinguish the fire. There were no injuries.

Kickel said preliminary reports indicate the fire may have been ignited by a street sweeper that was being stored in the garage over the weekend. The regional fire investigation team, along with the Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office, continue to conduct the investigation.  

Kickel said that in addition to the street sweeper, one of the city’s asphalt rollers, a semi-tractor and a sport utility vehicle used to conduct departmental business were destroyed in the fire.

“Almost everything in the building was destroyed, if not by the fire itself, then by the water,” he said, noting that almost all the metal on tools and other equipment has since rusted.

Representatives from the city’s insurance carrier, Selective Insurance, have been on scene since the morning after the fire to audit the building’s contents, Kickel added.

The emergency legislation council approved will be used to replace vehicles, tools and other equipment. The insurance will cover the losses, and the carrier has already authorized a portion of the funding needed to repurchase many of the items. Kickel said the additional funding authorized by council will help ensure the department can keep its busy spring and summer schedule on track.

Among the funding council authorized is $800,000 for the replacement of capital equipment; $75,000 for the replacement of hand tools and operating equipment; $30,000 for the rental of operating equipment; and $10,000 for operating equipment and materials.

Kickel said much of the equipment will be replaced through the city’s cooperative purchasing agreements, including the street sweeper, which is being purchased at a cost of $76,808.

Council also authorized the $141,496 purchase of 10 mobile vehicle lifts the department uses when repairing vehicles in its fleet. While the equipment is in stock, that cost does not include tax or shipping, Kickel noted.

While the service department does not anticipate having to rent any vehicles to maintain departmental operations, Kickel said the department did have to rent a large generator to provide electrical service to another building the city is currently using as its headquarters. Council authorized $30,000 to cover that expense.

The plans for building a new facility have yet to be announced.

Mayor Daryl Kingston thanked the surrounding departments that assisted the city’s fire department in putting out the fire and gave a special nod to the city of Independence and its mayor, Greg Kurtz.

“He offered us help in the form of personnel, equipment and space, and he also lent us a couple of service vehicles and portable jacks to get us through,” he said. “We’ve had a longstanding relationship with Kurtz and the city of Independence, and they came through for us when we needed them.” ∞