GLENN DAVIS of Lakes Region Fire Apparatus hands over the keys to Center Ossipee Fire Chief Michael Brownell as his department took delivery of their new fire engine last Friday, June 22. (Mellisa Seamans photo) (click for larger version)
June 28, 2012OSSIPEE — Three months after learning their fire engine would not pass its next inspection, Center Ossipee Fire Department took delivery of their new engine last Friday, June 22.
The HME 2011 engine, built in Michigan, has a 1,000 gallon tank and is able to pump 750 gallons of water per minute. The cab forward design of the new engine, according to Fire Chief Michael Brownell, offers much more stability for those driving it to emergency calls. The new engine seats six in the cab compared to five that the previous engine could carry. Brownell said in order for firefighters to be able to drive the new engine they must first become trained in its operation. This includes two hours of daytime driving, one hour of nighttime driving, and an hour of training to use the pump.
Problems with the old engine became apparent in March during a regular inspection when it was discovered that the double-frame engine was rotting apart and that "all types of things were out of alignment" including the rear axle. Because the engine was becoming structurally unstable, said Brownell, it was becoming dangerous for firefighters to drive not knowing when something serious could happen that could cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle. "One heave in the road could have sent it completely out of whack," said Brownell.
The February annual precinct meeting, a time when precinct voters decide the annual budget, had already passed when they learned of the problem. This forced the precinct commissioners to have an emergency meeting to inform the voters of the problem and get their approval to move forward with buying a new engine. The precinct has been diligent over the years, saving money annually towards the cost of new equipment purchases but there was not enough money in the capital reserve fund to pay for this unplanned expense. To be in compliance with state law and financing rules, voters also approved dissolving the capital reserve fund of about $100,000 and transferring that money into the general fund. This is because, according to Brownell, capital reserve funds cannot be used to pay for a lease-purchase agreement which is how commissioners decided to finance the purchase.
The total cost of the new engine is $347,000. The precinct entered into a non-binding agreement which means that voters will have to approve the lease payment each year at the annual meeting. The first payment of $57,000 is due in June 2013. Brownell said the commissioners were able to negotiate a very good interest rate of about three and a half percent.