Edgecomb Fire Chief Roy Potter, during a special meeting at the fire station Wednesday, May 9, said a new truck the department hopes to purchase would replace two others and provide better service. According to Potter, the truck would cost about $247,670.
Residents will have another opportunity to hear from the fire department at the annual town meeting Saturday, May 19. Voters will consider whether to have a future special meeting to vote on the truck purchase.
“We do have older trucks,” Potter said. “And what we have to do is to start thinking about getting things on a regular replacement schedule.”
In addition to the ongoing maintenance of department apparatus, Edgecomb Fire has two trucks it would like to put out of service. Engine 4 is a 1981 mini-pumper that, according to a department fact sheet, pumps less than 250 gallons of water per minute and holds 220 gallons.
“We can’t use that truck for structural firefighting,” Potter said. “It just doesn’t move enough water for us to do so.”
Maintenance on the mini-pumper has cost the fire department just under $2,000 since 2015.
The department’s Rescue 2 vehicle, manufactured in 1984, is used on all calls. Since 2015, it has run up almost $4,000 in maintenance costs. The truck stalled in front of the station, on busy Route 27, the previous Monday night, according to Lt. Roland Abbott, who has led the search for a new vehicle.
“That’s a regular occurrence,” said Edgecomb firefighter Amanda Babineau, adding, “You can’t see us pulling out of the station.”
Babineau, who volunteers for Edgecomb with her husband, Marc Babineau, said her mother died while serving with the South Portland Fire Department. Now a mother of two, Babineau is concerned for the safety of firefighters, her extended family. “I understand it’s a huge cost, but which costs more: paying for this truck or for a line-of-duty funeral?” she said.
The Edgecomb Fire Department has responded to approximately 60 calls since January, and the rescue vehicle went to all of them.
Leaning against a sample mini-pumper provided by Lakes Region Fire Apparatus Inc. for the meeting, Abbott said, “This would be great for our mutual aid calls.”
The 2018 mini-pumper (also referred to as a “fast-attack” vehicle) has a 330-horsepower turbo V-8 engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. It has four-wheel antilock brakes; front, side, and overhead airbag systems; a backup camera; a tire pressure monitor; and a battery charger with 40-amp output. It can pump 1,500 gallons of water per minute and has a capacity of 300 gallons. According to sales paperwork prepared for Edgecomb Fire, the truck is expected to have a service life of 18-20 years.
Abbott reviewed some of the more prominent features of the vehicle. “That truck can pump just as much water as that one over there,” he said, pointing to Engine 5, which will need a radiator replaced within a year or two. Also, the mini-pumper would be able to maneuver down narrow driveways and through tight areas that larger trucks like Engine 3 and Engine 5 cannot negotiate, according to Potter.
The mini-pumper will carry 500 feet of large-diameter hose, a 400-foot 2 1/2-inch-diameter hose and two “pre-connect” hoses, each 200 feet in length. The pre-connect hoses are already connected to the pump and ready to throw water at a moment’s notice.
The truck will have two air-pack seats in the back cab and will be able to carry all the equipment the current rescue truck holds, Abbott said. The new mini-pumper will also carry two new rescue tools the fire department purchased through fundraising efforts: Jaws of Life and a rescue cutter.
Reliability, safety, and functionality are the primary concerns of fire department personnel when it comes to their equipment, said Capt. Tom Trowbridge, addressing questions from a group of residents gathered inside the station.
“We’re getting rid of two vehicles that are not reliable,” he said. “And a new truck will have fewer maintenance costs.”
A few people at the meeting had questions about the condition of current department vehicles, but no one raised outright objections to the proposal.
Potter said the fire department will ultimately need to replace Engine 3, but if it does not pass inspection next year, a new mini-pumper would fill the gap.
In the next five to 10 years, after paying off the debt on a mini-pumper purchase, the fire department would need to have raised enough funds for an additional purchase. Potter said one new full-size tanker with 1,000-gallon capacity would replace both Engine 3 and Engine 5.
“We’re all taxpayers,” Trowbridge said. “We know it’s going to cost some money, but it’s the responsible thing to do.”
Edgecomb Selectman Mike Smith expressed his support for the fire department. “We’re glad they’re here, and we want to see them coming,” he said. “But like everything else, we have to work out the details.”