SCARBOROUGH – This fall Scarborough residents are being asked to approve a $585,000 local bond for a new fire truck.

Fire Chief Mike Thurlow said the equipment purchase would not have an immediate effect on the tax rate and said bonds used to purchase Engine 7 in 2006 and a heavy rescue vehicle in 2007 would be paid off within the next two fiscal years.

The new fire truck would replace Engine 3 and Thurlow said the debt service on the proposed bond would “be more than offset by the retirement of the current bonds, which means there will be no net tax increase required to fund this replacement apparatus for the Fire Department.”

If approved, the new fire truck would be a standard pumper with a 1,000-gallon tank and 1,500-gallon-per-minute pump capacity, according to Thurlow. It would also have a top-mounted pump panel for visibility and firefighter safety, similar to all of the other front line pumpers.

In addition, the truck would feature a compressed air foam system, which makes fire suppression 15 times more effective than water alone.

“This system is essential because it allows us to fight fires with significantly less water than normal, which is (especially) important in the area north of the turnpike where we don’t have a pressurized hydrant system,” Thurlow added.

He also said the new truck would be easier to use with the limited manpower the fire department often faces. The truck would replace one originally purchased in 1989. And, Thurlow said, the National Fire Protection Association standards recommend that fire apparatus be used in front line service for no more than 15 years, and in reserve status for no more than 10.

He also said the older a fire truck gets the more difficult it becomes to procure parts for major components like the original engine and transmissions, neither of which have been manufactured for more than 15 years due to stricter federal emission standards.

“Fire apparatus needs to be dependable not only for the firefighters that work with it, but for the citizens it protects,” Thurlow said. “Our Public Works department does an exceptional job of maintaining our fleet but it is harder to source critical parts each year the truck ages.”

The new truck would be located at the Oak Hill fire station and Engine 7 would be reassigned to the Pleasant Hill fire station. Thurlow said the Oak Hill station responds to an average of 1,000 calls per year while the Pleasant Hill station responds to about 300.

“(This plan) allows (Engine 7), which has already exceeded its mid-life engine hour projections, to run from a (slower-paced) station ensuring it will (be useful) for the maximum service life,” Thurlow said.

He added, “The Scarborough Fire Department clearly recognizes that replacing front line apparatus is expensive and is asking a great deal from the taxpayers. It is important that they know we don’t make these requests lightly.”

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