Beacon Falls CT Considers Fire Apparatus Purchase

Beacon Falls (CT) Fire Chief Michael Pratt said a current fire engine, entering its 25th year of service, may soon have to be retired.

According to regulations, a vehicle that has been in service for that long can no longer be considered a front line piece of equipment.

The current engine also has an open cab, which means the two seats facing the back are open. This type of cab is no longer allowed under current safety standards.

In addition to those considerations, the engine has also begun to show its age.

Another problem the fire department has run into is that Boardman, the company who makes the truck, has been out of business for about 10 years.

Pratt added the engine has begun to have electrical issues and will also need new tires in the near future. He is worried that the truck will soon cost the town more to repair than it is worth.

The department originally proposed completely refurbishing the Boardman engine for a cost of $585,000.

But, the department still wouldn’t have a ladder truck, which it has been asking the town to purchase for approximately 10 years, Pratt said.

During the Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance’s joint meeting in March, Pratt proposed buying a quintuple combination pumper, or quint, rather than refurbishing the engine.

The quint is a 500-gallon pumper and has a 75-foot ladder built in. Currently the department carries a 24-foot ladder on the Boardman.

Pratt said the 24-foot ladder is not always high enough to reach some third floors on houses.

Pratt feels the quint, which comes with an approximate $700,000 price tag, would be a wise investment for the town.

The department is looking at buying a demo model rather than one ordered to certain specifications as a way to save money on the truck, Pratt said.

In addition to having a pumper and ladder, the quint would also have a fully enclosed cab that seats six people, rather than the four people the current engine can seat.

Pratt said aside from addressing safety concerns, the quint would also have an impact the town’s insurance service office rating. This rating ultimately affects how much citizens pay for their insurance premiums. Removing the current engine from the front line and not replacing it could have a negative effect, he said.

“I don’t know what our rating is, but if we don’t replace it, it will go down and people’s insurance goes up,” Pratt said.

During the meeting both First Selectman Gerard Smith and Board of Finance member Jack Levine felt the new quint truck was a good idea and that the town should continue to look into the option.

Pratt said it would take the department approximately six months to bid out and receive the new truck.

Along with a new fire engine, the department is also seeking funds to repair the roof at the fire house.

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