WEST LAFAYETTE -- During an update to West Lafayette Village Council on the fire department's status for 2011, Fire Chief Gaylord Hill voiced his concerns about how the department will obtain funding to replace the village's main pumper (fire engine), as well as some of the necessary equipment that needs updated.

Hill said the main pumper, a Pierce model is in its 25th year of service, and its ability to keep running is now a question that is causing concern within the department.

"It (the engine) still starts right up, but with it's age it may not be long before it just quits on us," he said.

The V-6 Detroit diesel engine is no longer manufactured, according to Hill. He added that repair or upgrade of the engine would possibly not be feasible as some parts may not be compatible. The body of the engine is still as bright and shiny as the day it arrived at the station.

"We have always taken excellent care of it, as we do with the other engines," he said.

Replacing the pumper would estimate about $390,000. He adds that this estimate would be for a very basic model, nothing more.

The department has experienced a setback with funding last year. There was insufficient time to get the issue on the ballot.

In order to get it on the main ballot for the village of West Lafayette, the issue has to be approved by four of the local townships in the county prior to the election.

"This takes some time. It has to go through Oxford township, then onto three other townships before we could even present it to the voters," he said.

Hill anticipates the issue will be ready for voting time by the next time. He basically wanted to make the residents of West Lafayette aware of the department's urgent need to replace the engine, as well as upgrading some of the other necessary items.

The air packs (portable oxygen tanks) for the firefighters also need upgraded. Complete replacement of 20 air pack units would cost $146,000. He felt that some of the parts, such as the brackets of the current air packs, could be refurbished thus saving some money. These are items that are necessary to protect the village residents, their homes and places of business in the event a fire would occur. The department responded to 160 calls last year and 186 the year before.

"These are hard times, money is tough to get. We will still hang in and keep trying to look at ways for funding. I just want to make sure the community knows that this is a serious need, not just something we (the department) are wanting for ourselves," Hill said.

The West Lafayette Fire Department is currently operating on a 1-mill levy.

"Some of the other local departments are operating on a much higher millage which can go up to 5-mills. You can see we are really trying to conserve the community's money," he said.

The West Lafayette Fire Department is currently comprised of 20 members. The members are as follows: Chief Gaylord Hill, Assistant Chief Glenn Hill, Captains Don Lusk, Dallas Hill, Toby Manning, Damon Gould, Chad Hains, and firefighters Don Bradford, Tim Cheney, Brandon Bradford, Chad Gallagher, Sam Maple, Dustin Hazlett, Kevin Copeland, Todd Shroyer, Tony Griffith, Lance Crawford, Justin Bradford, Kyle Andrews, and Adam Fisher.