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Fire Chief outlines repair plans for Engine Four


September 19, 2012
Fire Chief Steve Carrier updated selectmen on his department's plan to repair the 25-year-old Engine Four at the Selectmen's meeting Wednesday, Sept. 12, following the defeat of the lease purchase warrant article for a new fire engine the previous day.

After discussing options with the Board of Fire Engineers and Town Administrator Scott Dunn, Carrier said they planned to send the truck to the Department of Public Works (DPW) for repairs on the brakes, suspension and cab mounts to help reduce labor costs.

"We will start repairing Engine Four as soon as possible," said Carrier.

Carrier said they planned to send the pump refurbishment out to bid, as they wanted a certified emergency apparatus technician to perform the work. Carrier said DPW mechanics had preformed some repairs to the plumbing system on Engine Four, but had not preformed any repairs to the pump. He said they preferred a certified technician to do this work because the technician could test and certify the pump.

To help save money, Carrier said the bid would also include any offers for a used pump, but they would need some form of guarantee that the pump would pass all official certification tests.

According to Carrier, the radiator also needed to be replaced, and while DPW mechanics had preformed this job before, it was a labor intensive task requiring mechanics to disassemble part of the truck cab. Carrier said the radiator could be more easily changed while up on a lift, and would probably be preformed by the technician who performs the pump work.

Other problem areas Carrier addressed included new tires, electrical system and a new light bar.

"The electrical system is a big unknown," said Carrier.

Carrier said there was not enough amperage flowing to the radio, so they occasionally lost communication with Engine Four. He said they hoped installing a new energy efficient LED light bar would ease the burden on the electrical system, and the radio would function properly.

After the first lease purchase article failed at the 2012 Annual Town Meeting, Carrier and the Board of Fire Engineers sent the truck to Lakes Region Fire Apparatus in Tamworth for pump repair. Technicians there found the extensive damage to the pump including wear to the pump housing.

The head technician said repairing the electrical system could be like opening up "a can of worms," and said he would refuse to take on the job.

Carrier reminded the selectmen that the pump and drive train was still disassembled, and they would have to tow Engine Four to any garage for repairs.

According to Carrier, they did not have funds in their current budget set aside for these repairs. Based on past estimates, Carrier said the repairs would cost about $50,000 without new tires, light bar or any electrical work. According to Carrier, the pump repair, alone, would cost about $32,000.

Carrier said that technicians suggested they set aside about $75,000, total, for the repairs to include any contingencies.

To save on labor, Carrier said they would work with the DPW mechanics as much as possible.

DPW Director Sheldon Morgan said they would begin working on Engine Four as soon as they could, but their mechanics are currently working to inspect all their large trucks.

Dunn said he would work with the Board of Fire Engineers to find any existing funds in the current budget to help fund the repairs. Dunn said they hoped to "hit the ground running," and they would begin repairs the next day if possible, but no one had an estimation of when Engine Four would be back in service.

The lease purchase article for a new fire engine failed to pass at the Special Town Meeting Vote Tuesday, Sept. 11 with a vote 1,089 yes and 743 no, missing the required 60 percent majority vote by 10 votes.

Bill Akerley, Board of Fire Engineers chair, said they would be requesting a recount of the ballots because the results were so close. He added that it was more a formality and they would go ahead with plans to repair Engine Four.

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