Prospect eyeing new firetruck

Engine 5 is parked in a bay at the Prospect Volunteer Fire Department. The department is looking to buy a new fire engine to replace Engine 5, which will be 20 years old next year. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

PROSPECT — The “Fightin Five” is getting up in years, and the Prospect Volunteer Fire Department is hoping to replace it with a new firetruck that offers more features.

Voters will be asked to approve buying a new fire engine — a Pierce custom velocity pumper tanker — at a town meeting on June 19 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

The firetruck, which will be supplied by Firematic Truck Sales out of Rocky Hill, costs $848,870. Fire Chief Bill Lauber said Firematic was the only company to bid on the firetruck.

Officials plan to pay the firetruck off over a 10-year lease with annual payments of $104,639. With interest, the truck will cost $1,046,390 over the life of the lease.

The new firetruck would replace Engine 5 — dubbed “Fightin Five.” Lauber said Engine 5, which is a tanker, will be 20 years old next year and reach the end of its life span under the standards followed by the department.

Lauber said his top priorities when buying a new firetruck is getting one that is more efficient and better for the town.

The firetruck the department wants to buy carries 3,000 gallons of water — 500 more than Engine 5 — and also comes with foam to help extinguish a fire, Lauber said. Engine 5 doesn’t have the foam.

Lauber said there are areas in town without fire hydrants. If a fire started in one of those areas, he said, firefighters will have an additional 500 gallons of water to use with the new firetruck.

The new firetruck also has safety and performance features, including air bags, vehicle rollover protection, traction control and anti-lock brakes, that Engine 5 doesn’t, Lauber said.

“A lot of things that make it drive better and safer for firefighters,” Lauber said.

Lauber added Engine 5 is a frontline firetruck. If the engine remains a frontline piece, the town’s insurance rating will go down due to the firetruck’s age the next time the town is inspected for fire prevention and suppression capabilities, he said. That would cause homeowners’ insurance to increase for residents, he said.

Mayor Robert Chatfield said the town’s last inspection was in 2015 and inspections are done every five years.

If the purchase is approved, the firetruck would arrive next year. The net impact on the budget would be an additional $34,378 a year for the life of the lease. The first lease payment would be made in the 2019-20 budget. The town is scheduled to make its final lease payment of $70,261 for Engine 1 in October. So, this lease payment would come off the books before the new lease starts.

Chatfield said the town tries to time it out so that new firetrucks are bought when a lease is expiring.

Engine 5 is one of five main vehicles in the department’s fleet. Engine 1 is a 2008 and Tanker 4 is only a few years old, Lauber said. Squad 3, a combination vehicle that the department uses to respond to car accidents because it carries rescue equipment and water to put out fires, is a 2003.

Rescue 6 is the oldest of the five vehicles at 25 years old, Lauber said. The vehicle carries equipment for rescue situations, like if someone is trapped in a car, he said. Rescue 6 isn’t rated for insurance purposes, Lauber said, so the life expectancy can be extended to 30 years.

Rescue 6 is the next vehicle the department will likely look to replace, Lauber said, but that won’t be until at least 2020.

If voters approve the new firetruck, Engine 5 will be sold after the department receives the new engine.