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Fire Department requests funds to replace outmoded trucks

Date: 4/11/2011

April 11, 2011

By Chris Maza

Reminder Assistant Editor

HAMPDEN — The Hampden Volunteer Fire Department may finally get a vital piece of equipment it has been in need of for a long time.

At the Annual Town Meeting, residents will vote on whether to approve the use of what Fire Chief Mike Gorski estimated to be $360,000 toward the purchase of a new fire truck to replace two outdated rescue vehicles.

The Fire Department is requesting the funds because of its need for equipment that lives up to current safety standards. The proposed apparatus would replace two trucks put in service prior to 1975.

"A lot of progress has been made in almost 40 years," Gorski said of the technology.

One of the trucks is a 1972 Maxim Pumper, which Gorski told Reminder Publications has been taken out of service due to maintenance issues. The other is a 1974 Diamond Reo tanker, which hauls water to the scene of a fire because the town does not have hydrants.

Gorski said the trucks do not allow for what he called "modern standard practices" for fire and emergency rescue.

"For example, the trucks only have room for a driver and an officer and everyone else rode on the tailboards. That practice ended in the late 1970's," Gorski said. "So now if there is a fire, everyone has to follow the truck in their own cars."

With 31 firefighters on call and an average of 16 responding to a structure fire, there are many times when the town's narrow streets are clogged with the personal vehicles of emergency responders, he added.

Gorski also noted that safety features, such as lap seatbelts, do not meet protocol.

He said the new truck would be equipped to perform the functions of the two outdated trucks, which will save the town money.

"We looked at what we needed to replace and asked ourselves if we really wanted to replace two trucks with another two that would cost us over $500,000?" Gorski recalled. "This proposal would take the best of both trucks and combine it into a pumper/tanker."

The truck would have the capability of pumping hundreds of gallons of water per minute from its own tank.

The new pumper/tanker would have a cab capable of carrying seven people, which would not only be in compliance with safety standards, but it gives the firefighters the opportunity to communicate and formulate a strategy for battling the blaze before arriving on the scene.

In an additional warrant item, the department would make upgrades to its other pumper/tanker, which was purchased in 1991, which would optimize the apparatus' conveyance of water to a scene. The estimated cost of that upgrade is $10,000.

"With those two vehicles, we would be able to bring almost 6,000 gallons of water directly to a scene. That's a lot of stopping power," Gorski said. "It really brings our fire suppression and prevention up to the standard it should be."

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