MILLINOCKET, Maine – The town’s newest firetruck is in service and a used model is on the way as the town’s firetruck fleet has been upgraded without heavily burdening taxpayers, officials said Wednesday.
Town officials bought a used 2002 pumper truck from a Fire Department in Pennsylvania for $140,000 as part of a deal that includes free firefighting equipment, interim Town Manager Charles Pray said.
“This is a very good deal,” Pray said Wednesday.
The truck would normally cost about $200,000 used and more than $500,000 new, said Pray and Fire Chief Andrew Turcotte. That, and the 2012 model pumper firefighters put into service about two weeks ago, will effectively end what Turcotte called a serious problem with worn-out trucks.
Several years of declining town budgets — and what Turcotte has described as no “well-defined maintenance and capital outlay program” — had left the Millinocket Fire Department with a 40-year-old pumper truck and a 31-year-old ladder truck that lacks a working pump.
The ladder-truck issue remains unresolved, but the Town Council’s 6-1 vote on March 21 to approve the purchase of the 2002 unit now leaves the town with two solid front-line trucks for handling emergencies, Turcotte said.
“I think it was a great decision by the council,” Turcotte said Wednesday, calling the 2002 truck “a great addition to our fleet that will provide the needed coverage for the community.”
The truck will arrive and be in service by mid-April. The 2012 unit, which features a 2011 chassis that firefighters preferred over the more recent model, was held out of service as town leaders determined whether to sell it for two used models or keep it and buy a used model.
Satisfaction with the $140,000 price that Turcotte negotiated swayed all councilors but Councilor Jimmy Busque, who voted against the purchase, Pray said. Busque objected to the approximately $387,000 in bonds that will cover the purchase.
One bond, of about $159,000, will be paid off over seven years. The second bond of about $228,000 is scheduled to be paid back in five years. The low bond interest rates mean that the purchase will cost the town about $1.44 per resident per month, Pray said.
The 2002 truck comes with free hoses, ladders, extrication equipment, positive pressure fans, air packs and pike polls – all equipment that town firefighters can use, Turcotte said.
Turcotte is developing a master purchase plan, in which funds could be set aside to help cushion taxpayers against large, sudden equipment purchases, he said.
He also expressed gratitude to East Millinocket and Medway firefighters for the automatic mutual aid provided the town during three fires over the last several months.