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Would-be councilman balks at city buying firefighting equipment
Downtown Ceres fire station number 1
Ceres Fire Station #1 in downtown will receive a new device to fill the air tanks of firefighters. - photo by Jeff Benziger

A routine consent agenda item to purchase equipment for firefighters’ use was protested by at least one resident after it was pulled for discussion at last week’s Ceres City Council meeting.

Before the council was a resolution to spend $78,769 on a device used to compress and fill air into the self-contained breathing apparatus air tanks used when firefighters go into burning buildings.

Fire Chief Kevin Wise said the old Bauer Breathing Air Compressor and Fill Station that has been in use since 1999 needs replacing because of “its age, out-of-service time, increased unreliability, and increased maintenance costs.”

Councilman James Casey pulled the item because he didn’t want anyone thinking the equipment was slipping into a Modesto station on account of the city turning fire service over to the city of Modesto.

“Under our agreement our city’s obligated to maintain the equipment, the building and the city of Modesto is obligated to employ qualified firefighters,” said Casey.

Wise said the compressor is at Ceres Fire Station 1 in downtown.

But pulling the item allowed Ceres resident John Osgood to protest. He stated that bottles could be taken to the Regional Training Center on Service Road and filled there.

“Do we absolutely need to spend the money?” asked Osgood, who was appointed to the City Council in 2021 but whose appointment was rescinded before he could take office because of controversial remarks he made on his podcast channel. Osgood has indicated he may run for council this year.

“Yeah, absolutely,” replied Chief Wise, who said the compressor is perhaps three years past its 20-year life expectancy. He said bottles are filled up more when training is in session at the academy.

“We know we’re partnered in the training center where there is a compressor – it’s adequate and capable of filling these bottles – we’re using that compressor quite a bit. But there are days where the compressor two miles down the road is idle? Then we don’t need to spend this money.”

The council approved the purchase in a 3-0 vote.