May 6, 2013

Firefighters help build Farmington fire truck

The fire department saves money by using donated time from firefighters to construct a new truck.

By KAITLIN SCHROEDER Morning Sentinel

FARMINGTON - The town of Farmington has a new fire truck, 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 talks about his department’s effort to build a squad truck.

David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

While department members have repaired and maintained other vehicles, this is the first fire truck 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 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 fire truck project began last fall, Bell said, after the town authorized the 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 accommodated two people.

Kaitlin Schroeder can be contacted at 861-9252 or at:

kschroeder@mainetoday.com

 

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