11 Call For Action investigates: Crowley County working to get new tanker truck year after old tanker is destroyed in fire

Matt Kroschel wants to know why there has been a year delay in this 11 Call For Action investigation.
Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 5:19 AM MDT|Updated: Apr. 27, 2023 at 5:35 AM MDT
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CROWLEY COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - The Ordway Volunteer Fire Department in Crowley County has gone without a tanker for a year now since theirs caught fire and was destroyed while responding to a wildfire call last year.

And since then, no movement on getting a replacement -- that is, until 11 News morning anchor Matt Kroschel started looking into this after a tip from a viewer.

And on that same day Kroschel interviewed county officials, a meeting was requested and new tanker was promised.

“We are 50 miles east of Pueblo.”

The Ordway all-volunteer fire department serves about a thousand homes, but this last year, they’ve been forced to rely on other departments, hoping they show up to calls with the most vital ingredient in fighting fire: water.

Kroschel: “How important is it for you guys to have a tanker truck?”

Kris Love, Ordway volunteer firefighter: “It is absolutely vital. So what a tanker truck is, is it provides water that have the areas that are unhydrated. So, especially like at structure fires water is the most important assets you can have.”

Love tells Kroschel the other fire departments in the county have been “fantastic,” but relying on them is not ideal.

“They are volunteer as well. Getting them paged out to the scene is not optimal, and we’ve also relied on the [Crowley County] Road and Bridge with their water tanker. They’ve been a great asset; however, it’s not 100% reliable.”

Over the months, the department tried unsuccessfully to get grants for a new tanker. They did some fundraising, falling way short of the thousands needed for it. Crowley County actually owns the current out-of-commission tanker truck.

“I’m not sure why there hasn’t been a definitive answer as why we have not received funding,” Love said.

“We are currently looking to replace it,” Crowley County Commissioner Blaine Arbuthnot told Kroschel. “The problem at the moment is perhaps with the fire department expectations are versus what we can afford.

Crowley county commissioners tell 11 News they have the funds to replace the tanker and could do it right away, but they claim Ordway wants a more expensive rig than they can afford, hence the stalled action on replacing the truck.

Kroschel: “It has been a year now since there’s been a tanke.r folks reached out to us with those concerns”

Arbuthnot: “The reason it has been a year is because the fire department had put in a grant two different times for a brand new setup, and they did not receive the grant. We had agreed to do a match on our end ... we were waiting to see the results of that. Now that that is over, we just need to agree.

County officials picked up the phone calling Ordway firefighters asking for another meeting shortly after this interview with 11 News concluded. Promising that meeting a year in the making.

Crowley County says its also are making their road and bridge crew tankers available for responding to emergency calls until the new tanker is purchased.