Tewksbury (MA) Considers Fire Apparatus Options

Damage to two of Tewksbury’s fire engines has taken those vehicles out of service, putting extra stress on the Fire Department and potentially leaving the town with a bill of around $700,000 to replace them.

A regular Department of Transportation inspection in late October revealed corrosion in the frame rails of two of the trucks, making them unfit for use.

The town has one reserve engine that has been called into regular use and is borrowing another from Wilmington.

Fire Chief Mike Hazel described the state of daily operations without having a backup engine available as “stressful. Very stressful.”

“If we have a truck that goes out of service for a mechanical problem or general maintenance, we don’t have an engine to put in its place, which does cause a little bit of stress for the operations, trying to maintain an engine which is capable of pumping water in each of our stations,” Hazel said. “Right now, we are doing the best that we can with the equipment that we have available.”

Use of the town’s reserve truck and the loaner from Wilmington keeps all three substations fully operational and the community protected, but is only a short-term fix, Hazel said.

A longer-range solution is in the works, as the town looks to purchase two replacement engines.

Town Manager Richard Montuori told the Board of Selectmen earlier this month that there were three options available for dealing with the trucks: refurbishing them, buying two new vehicles or buying used trucks that had previously been leased by other communities.

“At least at the moment, we’re leaning toward pursuing two trucks coming off leases that will be available in June,” Montuori said Friday. “We don’t think refurbishing the current trucks is a good idea, based on the cost and the unknown of how long they’ll last.”

A formerly leased truck comes with a price tag of around $360,000, Montuori said, with an additional $10,000 for it to travel to Tewksbury on a flatbed.

Going this route would require a $20,000 deposit, and Montuori said he plans to talk to the town’s Finance Committee about securing the “upfront funding for a deposit.”

“It’s still cheaper than a new truck, which is probably in the $540,000 to $560,000 range,” Montuori said.

Montouri had previously provided estimates of $189,000 for the refurbishment of one truck and $240,000 for the other.

The leased trucks the town would like to buy would not be available until June, Montuori told selectmen at their last meeting. Buying entirely new trucks would take around six months to get them fitted to Tewksbury’s specifications.

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