Newport approves firetruck, gear purchases

Posted May 14, 2009, at 8:02 p.m.

NEWPORT, Maine — The Board of Selectmen gave its approval this week to the purchase of safety gear and a used firetruck for the Fire Department.

Chief Jeff Chretien said the truck, a 1989 E-1 Hurricane rescue-pumper, will replace two existing vehicles, a 1978 Pierce pumper and the heavy rescue truck.

“We wanted to find one vehicle to replace both,” Chretien said. He said the replacement will seat eight, has room for extrication equipment and all emergency medical service supplies, and has room for the foam and cascade systems.

“It is perfect for accident response,” he said, “while still being a firetruck.” Currently, whenever there is a vehicle accident, two trucks must go — the heavy rescue and a firetruck.

Chretien said the market is flooded with excellent used fire apparatus since many departments are purchasing new trucks with stimulus funds. The truck he is interested in originally was used in Kansas.

He said the truck would cost $59,000. For that price, the doors will be lettered, seats reupholstered, and all new tires installed. “It will be 100 percent service-ready,” he said.

The selectmen agreed to issue a $5,000 deposit and Chretien will fly to Alabama to test and evaluate the truck.

The board also approved the purchase of up to 10 new air packs. Chretien said when he took over earlier this year as chief, he discovered that all of the existing air packs work but they are about 16 years old. Next January, 20 of the department’s air bottles will expire.

Chretien said, “These are the lifeline of the Fire Department and the most important purchase we can make right now.”

Originally, only two air packs — each just over $3,000 — were budgeted. Chretien recommended purchasing 10 air packs. Each comes with two air bottles.

Town Manager James Ricker said that by using the department’s capital reserve account, both the air packs and the truck can be purchased without financing.

Then, he said, the old Pierce and heavy rescue can be sold, allowing the reserve fund to be partially replenished. Chretien estimated the apparatus could be sold for a total of $20,000 or $30,000.

Chretien also reported to selectmen that he has submitted a grant for new fire hose and just recently obtained a $1,062 matching grant for forestry gear. The town’s match will come from a $1,000 donation from the Outcast Bass Club.

Chretien said at this time last year, the department had handled 190 calls and this year they are up to 203. “We have had six structure fires and lots of mutual aid calls,” he said.

He reported he also has increased the number of firefighters from 16 to 24 and has started a mandated, in-house training program.

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