Bountiful needs a new fire truck, and the city thinks Uncle Sam should help pay for it.

The City Council decided this week to apply for a federal Community Development Block Grant to get money to help buy a new ladder truck, which would be shared with the South Davis Fire District.Estimated at $500,000, the truck's cost would be split between the city, which has its fire department, and the fire district, which serves Centerville, Woods Cross, West Bountiful and North Salt Lake.

To be eligible for a block grant, the applicant must show the money would be used to benefit low- to moderate-income families, aid in the prevention or elimination of slums, or meet a pressing public safety need.

City manager Tom Hardy believes the grant meets the safety criterion as well as the economic one. He argued that a ladder truck is necessary for economic growth because tall buildings cannot be constructed without one.

The ladder truck currently in service is 24 years old and is wearing out.

"We have some real concerns about the reliability of it because of its age," Hardy said. "The metal is beginning to fatigue."

Fire Chief Jerry Lemon said the truck is "just over the hill" and hard to get parts for. "When it breaks down, we have to wait for a part to be specially made."

So, if a major fire broke out while the truck was out of service, Bountiful would have to call Layton or Salt Lake City for a ladder truck. Those fire departments are 15 and 10 minutes away, respectively.

Bountiful last received a federal block grant in 1986 to help in designing the refurbished Main Street. "I would think it is certainly our turn," Hardy told the council.

A public hearing on whether Bountiful should apply for the money for a new ladder truck has been set for Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall.

If Bountiful is unsuccessful in getting federal funding, "We'd have to replace it from the city's general fund, which would burden taxpayers," Hardy said.