GREENVILLE, Maine —Greenville firefighters have a new pumper-tanker. It starts with a key, has a horn, its lights are operational and its tank doesn’t leak.
The new vehicle, which should be on-line in about a week, will replace a homemade tanker that was cobbled together from parts of a circa-1950 oil truck and a 1989 milk truck. The old tanker is a hazard in itself. It caught fire twice, loses its lights on big bumps in the road, can easily be tipped over if an unseasoned driver is behind the wheel and the water tank leaks.
The 1998 Freightliner pumper-tanker that was purchased by the town from a private company in Virginia for $145,000 was driven home last week by Greenville Fire Chief John Cobb and Assistant Fire Chief Joey Harris.
“We decided it was time to go ahead and move on making a purchase so that we could get a safer piece of equipment,” Cobb said Saturday. The purchase ended a long process that began about two years ago, he said.
Town and fire officials were unsuccessful in each of the four applications the town filed for a Homeland Security grant for the tanker’s replacement, which included this year’s request. At the annual June town meeting, residents authorized town officials to borrow up to $200,000 for the vehicle, if this year’s grant request was not funded.
The town had yet to borrow the funds when Cobb found the 1998 Freightliner, which firefighters and town officials felt would meet the town’s needs. Aware of the interest in the vehicle from other fire departments across the country, selectmen placed a $7,000 retainer on the vehicle.
Greenville Town Manager John Simko said town officials had hoped to have a purchase-sales agreement on behalf of the town and then have 30 days to execute the final payment, but the tanker’s owner was unwilling to do that.
Selectmen then decided to fly Cobb and Harris to Virginia to inspect the vehicle. Town officials provided them with a check for $138,000 from the department’s fire apparatus account. In the event the truck was not worthy, Cobb and Harris would have returned home with the $7,000 and the $138,000. Since the tanker passed their approval, the firefighters paid for the vehicle and drove it home.
Now town officials plan to solicit bids for a $145,000 bond to repay the apparatus account.