LITTLETON, Maine — For the first time in Fire Chief Dwight Cowperthwaite’s 30 years with the Littleton Fire Department, the volunteer department has a brand-new truck in its fleet.
The new tanker truck was purchased with federal funds as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program. The truck will replace a 31-year-old tanker that has been leaking for several years.
“The town probably would have purchased a new truck 10 or 15 years ago if I had really pushed for one,” Cowperthwaite said. “But we really don’t run that much. Our calls are way down from what they were 30 years ago, and that’s a good thing.”
The town received $225,000 in grant money and had to come up with only a 5 percent match, Cowperthwaite said. The chief said he has been submitting grants applications for the past eight years, hoping that one of them would be approved to buy a new vehicle.
“We are very pleased,” Cowperthwaite said. “What better way to celebrate our 30th anniversary than with a new truck?”
In order to get the truck to fit inside the fire station, Cowperthwaite said, he had the door raised last spring in anticipation of the new rig. Cement blocks are used to stop the vehicle while it is backing its way into the garage.
“I was a little scared that it was not going to fit,” the chief said. “But you can walk all the way around [the vehicle].”
The tanker truck was purchased through K and T Fire Equipment of Island Falls and was engineered and built at Metalfab Fire Apparatus of Centreville, New Brunswick. Cowperthwaite said he visited the Canadian manufacturer weekly during the three months the truck was being built. He took numerous photos of the vehicle in various stages of construction, which he plans to put in an album for the department to view.
The grant was not the first for Cowperthwaite. In 2005, the department received $30,000 to replace some of its self-contained breathing apparatus devices and turnout gear.