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Fire Department Requests New Ladder Truck at $940,000

Aug 29, 2014 10:00AM ● By Lynn Ulsh
written by Lynn S. Ulsh,
Bulletin Reporter

At the August 11 Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Bellingham Fire Chief Steven Gentile outlined a proposal for the purchase of a new ladder truck and car for the department and promoted a new lieutenant for the south fire station.

Gentile explained that the current ladder truck was purchased in 1996.  In the past few years, there have been problems with the aerial ladder and a worn-out hydraulic system that is becoming more difficult and costly to repair.

Additionally, the truck no longer meets safety standards for the size buildings in Bellingham. Gentile noted that although there are no true high—rise buildings in town, there are some three-storey buildings such as the Jefferson Place apartments and big-box stores such as Walmart and Home Depot. Also, the newer colonial homes in town have longer lots, and homes are located farther from the street; therefore, the reach of a ladder truck needs to be greater.
The current ladder truck allows for only one fireman at the end of the ladder to fight the fire or rescue victims, and any victims must be carried down manually.  In the proposed new truck, there is a platform at the end of the ladder that can hold four people.  Also, the platform can be lowered in order to bring both firefighters and victims down more safely.

When asked the difference in price between replacing the current truck with the type of 100-foot ladder truck currently used as opposed to the proposed KME 102-foot ladder truck with the platform, Town Administrator Denis Fraine said that the difference would be approximately $100,000.  The proposed truck costs approximately $940,000 before trade-in of the old ladder truck, which should reduce the cost, and the old style would cost around $800,000.

However, the lifespan of the proposed truck is 30 years, which is 10 years longer than the old style. Selectmen Chairperson Michael Connor noted that $940,000 over a 30-year period comes to only $31,000 per year, which he maintained is not a lot to pay for safety. The cost of the truck will likely be funded by borrowing, using ambulance receipts to pay off the debt.
Additionally, the department is requesting the replacement of its Ford Expedition, which currently has 96,000 miles on it, with a new Chevy Tahoe. The Expedition will continue to be used by the DPW inspector for off-road inspections. Gentile noted that the Chevy costs $5,000 less, at $43,804, and is the preferred vehicle for fire departments in the area. He also noted that the ladder truck and the vehicle (car 3) are the only two vehicles scheduled for replacement until 2018.

Gentile also announced that because of a retirement, they have promoted a new lieutenant for the south fire station. Firefighter/Paramedic Victor DaCosta will move from the main fire station to take charge of the station in the south end of town.  DaCosta has been employed in Bellingham since 2004 and full time since 2007. He has fire-academy and fire-officer training as well as paramedic training.

Business Licensing

In other business, the Board granted the transfer of a second-hand dealer’s license to Richard Goldberg, who is taking over the family business, Marshall’s Jewelers. Goldberg assured the board that he follows all laws and precautions, including paying for items by check only, which generally deters those people trying to sell stolen goods.
Another license transfer was the class II auto-dealer’s license from the business located at 35 Mechanic Street to Vincent Georges, who is relocating his business from Millis.  The Selectmen agreed to grant the transfer of the license, but noted that they feel there are far too many auto dealers in town; therefore, they would seriously hesitate to approve new licenses.

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