Bradford (VT) Voters Rescind Approval for Fire Apparatus Purchase

Bradford (VT) residents at a special Town Meeting on Tuesday night voted, 108-77, to undo the action taken at the annual Town Meeting on March 4, when voters authorized officials to borrow up to $679,000 for a new fire engine.

“Those opposed didn’t dispute the need for the fire truck, but said the price would be too much of a hit on their taxes,” Selectboard Chairman Ted Unkles said of the results on Wednesday morning.

A petition filed by residents forced the special meeting, which drew more voters than the March meeting and yielded 30-40 minutes of “calm, respectful debate,” Unkles said. About 50 more votes were cast Tuesday than were cast at Town Meeting, when the tally was 97-36 in favor of the purchase.

Bradford Fire Chief Ryan Terrill, who was a proponent of the new engine, expressed little emotion about the reversal in a phone interview on Wednesday.

“They want us to look toward a different truck and have more information available to the voters,” Terrill said.

The fire department will continue to operate with four engines, with a fifth one out of service.

The fleet can handle the suppression of fires that break out in an average-height home, Terrill said, but because none of the engines in service are ladder trucks, emergencies taking place at taller structures pose problems for the department.

The truck the department sought to purchase was a newer, 75-foot “quint” ladder truck, so called because it can perform five firefighting functions.

Terrill said fire officials will work with the Selectboard to figure out a plan to replace the out-of-service engine – a 95-foot-long truck built in 1986 – which doesn’t meet National Fire Protection Association standards because of its age.

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