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October 10, 2012

City eyes $1M for fire trucks

With a fleet of fire engines starting to show, and in some cases, bare its age, Mayor Carolyn Kirk and fire Chief Eric Smith are asking the City Council to back a loan for up to $1 million to buy two fire trucks.

The Fire Department is seeking to buy a new pump engine and a used backup ladder truck with an eye toward filling gaps left by decommissioned Ladder 2, and a 1989 Pierce pumper.

Right now, the department’s down a pumper and has no backup for Ladder 1, Smith said, so adding the new trucks needs to happen soon.

The loan authorization requires City Council approval, and the request heads to the council’s Budget and Finance Subcommittee next Thursday.

“Right now, it’s very difficult for us to do any maintenance on Ladder 1 because there’s no reserve,” said Smith.

Smith said the department’s firefighter mechanics tackle problems with Ladder 1 when they can. But the truck can’t remain out of service for very long, he said – adding that the mechanics can only do piecemeal repairs on the engine because there isn’t a backup.

Smith said he’s looking for a used ladder that will last 8-10 years. That will cost, according to a memo from city CFO Jeff Towne, around $350,000. Ladder 2 went out of service after an inspection showed severe rust problems on the frame.

Without a second ladder, Smith said, the department will have to ask another city to lend a truck if Ladder 1 breaks down. In March, the Lawrence Fire Department lent Gloucester a ladder to cover while Ladder 1 was in Wapole for repairs.

The new pumper would cost around $650,000 according to Towne’s memo. That truck would take about six months to build. Smith said the department is pushing for the new engine and needs the city to order it as soon as possible.

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