May 5, 2013

Farmington saves big by building fire truck from scratch

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

FARMINGTON — The town of Farmington has a new firetruck, thanks to volunteer firefighters and public works officials who built the vehicle themselves as a cost-saving measure.

click image to enlarge

Farmington fire chief Terry Bell speaks about his department's effort to build a squad truck with labor from firefighters and other town resources, which resulted in substantial savings to the town.

Staff photo by David Leaming

click image to enlarge

Lt. Tim Hardy connects radio equipment inside a new squad truck being assembled at the Farmington Fire Department. Several department personnel donated time and expertise to lower the cost of the new vehicle.

Staff photo by David Leaming

While department members have repaired and maintained other vehicles, this is the first firetruck they've built from scratch, Chief Terry Bell said.

Bell said the volunteer firefighters also have day jobs and can use those skills to help the department while responding to calls or, in this case, building a new squad truck to replace the 25-year-old vehicle they were using.

"If you got people here who can do it, why not?" Bell said.

Lt. Tim Hardy said the truck cost around $95,000. Cost estimates for a new truck ranged from $120,000 to $135,000, he said.

Bell said the town has been supportive of the Fire Department and has done a good job raising funds to replace rescue vehicles. Because of that, he said, the department was happy to find a way to save the town some money on the truck.

"They've been very good to us. They help us out and we help them out," he said.

Bell said that in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, fire departments were able to take advantage of federal grants for new equipment and training; but those grant opportunities have dwindled gradually, and his department has had to find other ways to fund replacement equipment.

The firetruck project got under way last fall, Bell said, after the town authorized the Fire Department to buy the parts. The department bought the chassis and the body, then firefighters worked several nights past 10 p.m putting the two together.

Bell said it took several late nights and two tries to lower the body correctly onto the chassis, but with help from public works employees the job was finished April 26 and the truck was ready to be put into service.

The 1988 truck that the new one is replacing will be taken out of service and probably put up for bid, Bell said.

The new truck is a lighter rescue vehicle compared with other vehicles the department uses, Bell said, and it will be used to respond to events such as brush fires. The four-door truck can seat up to five firefighters. The old truck had two doors and acccommodated two people.

Bell said the age range of the department's other vehicles is five to 18 years.

Kaitlin Schroeder— 861-9252
kschroeder@mainetoday.com

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