Franklin Countys First News

Farmington Fire Department proposes Engine 1 replacement

Engine 1 is looking at a proposed replacement; the decision will go to voters at the November referendum.

[Editor's Note: Added a line that makes it clear that Engine 1 has other, frame and rust-related issues, in addition to the computer issue.]

FARMINGTON - Selectmen continued a discussion regarding two aging fire engines Tuesday night, with several members of the Farmington Fire Department in attendance.

A persistent computer problem in Engine 1 may bump the truck to the top of the list as far as replacement goes, taking priority over Engine 2 which is scheduled to be replaced next year. The truck is also suffering from rust and frame issues that would make refurbishing the vehicle expensive. The difficulties with Engine 1 - a 2002 apparatus - have been ongoing and irreparable according to fire department staff.

Fire Chief Terry Bell presented two options to the board for moving forward with the issues: replace both trucks at the same time, or replace Engine 1 and go about repairing Engine 2 to extend its life.

"If money were no object, the decision would be pretty easy," Selectman Stephan Bunker said.

Replacing both engines at the same time would offer some benefits, according to the outline provided by Bell, such as having two trucks with similar components and features requiring similar training. Buying two engines at the same time could result in a discount, but companies were hesitant to give estimates on what that discount might be. Bell estimated replacing Engine 1 for between the amounts of $675,000 and $790,000 while replacing Engine 2 might fall between $565,000 and $690,000. That option could be funded using the equipment reserve account, which currently has a balance of $354,551 and bonding the remaining balance. Bonding for ten years would give the department time to pay off the units before needing to replace Tower 3 which is due in 2030, Bell explained.

"We feel this option would have the least effect on the current budget with a limited increase to cover the debt service based on some of the initial figures we have looked at, and keep the apparatus replaced within their serviceable life span," Bell wrote in a letter to the board.

Engine 2 is a 24-year-old truck with regular wear and tear for its age. Option two outlined by Bell, which selectmen decided to move forward with, will look into repairing Engine 2 and replacing Engine 1. This option would still use the reserve account in addition to a bond for the remaining balance. Bell estimated repairs for Engine 2 to be roughly $75,000. The front-line truck would need all new plumbing and a new pump, assuming no other major issues are discovered. Deputy Chief Tim Hardy said the department could get Engine 2 assessed with a goal of extending its life for another five years. That would give the town time to boost reserve account savings in anticipation of the replacement.

The decision would ultimately be sent to the November referendum, as decided by the board, asking townspeople to vote on the replacement of Engine 1 and repairs for Engine 2.

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9 Responses »

  1. Farmington ratepayers should get ready to crack open those piggy banks...yet again. Do not be fooled, these trucks are not your daily. They are kept in cherry condition. Common sense says that both of these trucks are quite fixable and would have a nice extended service life instead of saddling the taxpayers again unnecessarily.

  2. So why not replace the computer in Engine 1?

  3. Apologies...should say, “these trucks are not your daily driver.” Just because these trucks are early 2000s vintage, they cannot even be close to being compared to similar aged vehicles on the road. Not only that, there are hundreds if not thousands of semi trucks of the same age out there on the road every day hauling just fine.

  4. Since when it cheaper to replace than repair $800,000 trucks just so we can "I want to say thankfully direct traffic".We should find it very difficult to replace trucks that were promised to be state of the art when purchased not so long ago.

  5. Buy the truck! I want only the best fire. equipment to respond, should I need them,

  6. These trucks are 24 years old and 17 years old? Yeah, buying new trucks is expensive, but when the old trucks are not working well the cost of repairs will add up (and new ones will have to be purchased in the not too distant future), and there is a risk that when needed they might not perform. The bad news is the cost of the trucks. The good news is that hopefully there won't be added costs for the next 20 years.

  7. Hopefully the town will do some heavy research. Just because something is new and improved does not mean it is any safer or better at its intended task. Think the new jets that crashed.
    A hefty part of the 800,000 dollars in no doubt for liability should there be a failure.
    Taxpayer Beware makes very valid points.

  8. To those who have questions, please go to the fire station and ask to speak to Chief Bell. I have no doubt that he would speak to you in detail about the issues with both trucks AND the cost of repair vis-a-vis replacement. Plus, you might learn some facts that were presented at the budget meeting but not covered in the BD article. Yep, you never need fire protection until YOU need it!!

  9. When you live in the city, you pay city taxes. Farmington is NO small town now. Taxes are coming close to doubling since 2000, for many people. Wow.

    Oh well, people vote for it (all 100 out of ~7,000), so they must like it. Hand it over.