Brunswick chief urges action on $650K for fire truck

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BRUNSWICK — The Town Council has scheduled a July 17 public hearing on a bond to finance the purchase of a new fire engine.

Fire Chief Ken Brilliant told the council Monday, June 5, that the metal frame on one of the department’s three pumper engines is warped and rusted to a point where, in the opinion of the town mechanic, it cannot be repaired. 

Engine 2 also recently underwent repairs for air leaks that jeopardized the integrity of the brakes. Brilliant said future leaks are inevitable, and the town’s mechanic warned that the work would require removing the entire body of the truck.

“Currently, we are fine,” he assured the council, although a failure in the brakes would require the department to take the truck off the road.

Pumper engines – which are versatile, all-purpose trucks that respond to the majority of fire calls – have a predicted lifespan of about 20 years, Brilliant said. Engine 2 has nearly 41,000 miles on it, he said.

After a mechanic brought the rusted deterioration of the chassis to his attention last November, Brillant asked town staff to move the project up to next year’s set of planned capital improvement projects. The Town Council approved the 2017-18 CIP on May 25.

The engine will take approximately 300 days to build, Brillant explained, a lag that he said contributed to his request to move up the purchase.

The cost is not expected to exceed $650,000, the amount at which the bond would be capped. Brilliant said the town won’t get a specific cost until it goes out to bid next fall, but based on estimates from the manufacturer that sold the town a similar model in 2008, the price should be $597,000-$619,000.

Because the amount is less than $1 million, borrowing does not require voter approval.

Finance Director Julia Henze proposed financing the purchase at 2.75 percent interest over a 10-year period of declining payments, beginning in fiscal year 2019.

Because of the incurred interest – which Town Manager John Eldridge calculated would be roughly $98,000 – Councilor John Perreault asked whether the council should consider using reserve funds for the one-time purchase.

Henze said councilors could review that option, and reminded them that voting to issue the bond ordinance would not require the town to borrow the money.

After questioning Brillant on the department’s process for routine vehicle maintenance and inspection, they requested another mechanic’s opinion on the truck before making a decision this summer.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net. Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

Brunswick Fire Chief Ken Brillant examines snow, salt, and dirt that’s come off the bottom of vehicles at the town’s Central Fire Station in December 2016. Road grime has prematurely corroded the chassis of the department’s 19-year-old pumper truck, causing Brillant to ask the town for a replacement.

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Reporting on municipal, school, and community news in Brunswick and Harpswell. Bowdoin graduate, Wild Oats sandwich-eater. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net.