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Normal to join Bloomington, others in fire truck litigation

Normal to join Bloomington, others in fire truck litigation

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NORMAL — Several Illinois cities are banding together to pursue legal action after, they claim, a fire equipment maker stiffed them on warranty repairs.

Bloomington and Normal are among seven cities considering an alliance to "pursue any and all legal remedies" against Pierce Manufacturing of Appleton, Wis., according to a memo from Jessica Woods, an attorney with the town.

Of the town of Normal's five fire engines and two ladder trucks, six have corroded chassis, including two so badly damaged that they're out of service. Repairs are estimated at $90,000 per vehicle, which the town wants Pierce to pay for under a 50-year warranty on each chassis offered by the company.

"It is our understanding ... that Pierce has been denying similar claims, asserting that the apparatus were not properly washed, considering the salt that is present on our roadways during the winter," according to the memo. "Our fire department washes each fire apparatus every day."

In response, the town staff has requested it enter into an agreement with Bloomington, Champaign, Charleston, Decatur, Ottawa and Peoria to fight back. The City Council will consider that agreement when it meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday; the meeting was moved from Monday due to Independence Day on Tuesday.

"The collective power of these municipalities in reaching a positive legal resolution is presumably greater than the bargaining power of any one," according to the memo.

Legal costs, for the firm of Ancel Glink, would be split among cities by population. The town's estimated costs are $5,000.

Pierce Manufacturing could not be reached for comment on the allegations.

In other business, the council will consider:

• A plan for a new 74-unit townhouse development off Cottage Avenue. 

• An agreement to have Crown Castle Communications relocate a cell tower from the Normal fire station site at 604 N. Adelaide St. to Fairview Park.

The town hoped to leave the tower in place after trading the fire station land to Illinois State University, but that proved prohibitively expensive, according to a memo from Brian Day, the town's chief attorney.

"The cost of relocating the easements was significantly higher than anticipated," according to the memo. "In exchange for moving the tower, the town would provide a free 35-year lease at the Fairview site for the new tower."

Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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