BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) - Since November of 2013 the Jefferson County EMA has had a formal lease agreement with a company to rent a warehouse on 5th Avenue South intended to store disaster relief supplies and equipment, but for some time the building was storing a number of antique fire trucks which are not owned by the agency, according to EMA Coordinator Allen Knipher.
Knipher says the lease was arranged by Mountain Brook Mayor Terry Oden.
And actually they are the governing body for emergency management when we have a disaster they become the governing body for the county," said Allen Knipher, Jefferson County EMA coordinator.
found that one, got a good price on so he
negotiated a price, had me sign the lease and we moved, started to move in," said Knipher
According to Knipher
, Oden is part of a group that owns the antique vehicles which were in a different location in Birmingham, until that building was leased to someone else.
"I knew he
was going to do it when he
told me but I didn't know how many was going in there," said Knipher
As the Jefferson County EMA Coordinator, Knipher lists a number of benefits to having the fire trucks there.
In exchange for storing the trucks the EMA received $7500 dollars towards the lease which cost more more than $40,000 dollars a year according to Knipher
Another benefit is that there are more eyes on the facility which may decrease the risk of theft.
says thousands of dollars worth of generators and equipment were stolen from one of their other storage locations.
said the trucks didn't really pose a problem for the EMA, but he
is concerned about the investigation.
"I am because I think everybody's making it bigger than it really.
I don't know if it's politics after politics and what they're doing there.
It's above my paygrade," said Knipher
The EMA does not own the antique fire trucks, but Knipher
says the owners let the EMA parading some of the antique fire equipment around at community events.
did not give a clear answer about why the EMA vehicles were not moved into the building earlier, but says the fire trucks were not preventing them from doing that.
referred to a list of holdups including damaged shelves, limited manpower, and the prolonged response to tornadoes in January and June of this year.
The fire trucks have been moved out of the building, according to Knipher