New fire truck on city agenda
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | April 06,2013
The city is getting ready to kick the tires on a new fire truck.
Acting Fire Chief Brad LaFaso went before the Board of Aldermen this week to ask about the status of the planned purchase of a replacement for Engine 2, which he said went to the Public Safety Committee some time ago.
Sean Sargeant, until recently chairman of that committee, said they had been waiting for specifications and bid information. LaFaso said the department was ready with that data and the committee’s new chairman, Alderman Ed Larson, said he would schedule a meeting “as early as next week.”
Engine 2, a 1992 Sutphen pumper truck with a 1,000-gallon tank, has seen 56,036 miles and 7,174 hours of use, according to LaFaso, who said it probably should have been replaced four years ago.
“It goes to all first-alarm assignments here in the city, all contract areas we cover in the town ... all calls in Mendon, so it runs a lot,” LaFaso said Thursday. “This truck has been definitely, definitely well used.”
While he did not have numbers handy, LaFaso said the engine has become expensive to maintain, needing service last year on the transmission and the pump.
“The engine’s leaking oil,” he said, adding that the department was advised against repairing that issue if the truck was up for replacement. “There’s a seal that’s gone in it,” he said. “Oil’s all over the floor every morning. We’ve got to constantly put oil in it and antifreeze.”
On top of being beat up, LaFaso said, the truck is out of date. Modern fire engines have on-board computers, better brakes, air bags and different pumps, according to the acting chief.
The new truck would come with a “Speedy Dry” bin, making it easier for firefighters to dispense the substance used for soaking up oil at crash scenes; a reel that would make it easier to roll up hoses after minor fires and a top-mounted pump so the pump operator will not have to stand in the street, at risk from oncoming traffic.
“There’s a lot of different features we have spec’d in,” LaFaso said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a new fire truck that’s well equipped.”
While the purchase will have to go out to bid, LaFaso said such a truck will likely cost $400,000 to $550,000. He said the department’s equipment reserve fund has at least that much.
LaFaso has been filling in as department head since Chief Robert Schlachter suffered a heart attack. Mayor Christopher Louras said this week that Schlachter had successfully undergone surgery at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and LaFaso said Thursday the chief was recovering at home.