Beacon Hose proposes lease-purchase plan to replace vehicles

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By Elio Gugliotti, Editor

Engine 2, a 26-year-old fire engine and tanker truck, is parked Feb. 23 in the garage at Beacon Hose Co. No. 1 in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — Beacon Hose Co. No. 1 officers are proposing the town implement a lease-purchase plan for replacing the volunteer department’s fleet of vehicles.

As part of the department’s budget request for the 2021-22 fiscal year, Beacon Hose officers proposed the town allocate $250,000 to start the lease-to-purchase process to replace Engine 2, a 26-year-old fire engine and tanker truck, in the capital budget. The department also proposed $150,000 in the coming fiscal year, and each subsequent year, for lease payments to replace fire vehicles.

According to National Fire Protection Association standards, 25 years is generally considered the time when most fire apparatuses should be replaced.

Beacon Hose Chief Brian DeGeorge said the proposal is designed to avoid large, one-time expenditures to replace fire vehicles, keep the department on track for replacing vehicles, and allow town officials to better forecast future budget expenditures.

The latest fire engine purchased — a 2017 Pierce Manufacturing Inc. firetruck — was bought in 2018 for $850,000. The town bonded the funds for the firetruck.

DeGeorge said the plan is to replace Engine 2 with two vehicles — a tanker truck and a fire engine. If the plan goes forward, the department would replace the 22-year-old Engine 3 and its 17-year-old rescue truck with a rescue pumper truck in about four years.

The rescue truck responds to car accidents, among other calls, and carries rescue tools. A rescue pumper truck has the same capabilities but also carries water.

The department has been seeking to replace Engine 2 for the past few years. DeGeorge said the town has held off on replacing it, rightfully so he added, due to other needs.

“I know we all think we’re the most important people in the budget,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of other departments looking for money, too.”

The proposed initial $400,000 allocation in the coming budget would get the department back on track for replacing fire vehicles on a regular cycle, he said.

Beacon Hose is also seeking to take the same approach when it comes to the department’s two ambulances and its other, smaller vehicles, like the chief’s vehicle and a utility truck.

The department tries to replace ambulances every 10 years, DeGeorge said. He is proposing spending about $25,000 to replace the suspension on a nine-year-old ambulance to get another three years of use out of it. Then, in three years, the proposal is to allocate $50,000 in the capital budget every year for a lease-purchase program to replace the ambulances on a cycle.

The department requested $15,000 in the 2021-22 capital budget to start a lease-purchase program for the smaller vehicles.

Town officials haven’t taken any action on the proposal yet, as its part of ongoing budget preparations for the 2021-22 fiscal year. A final budget proposal will be drafted in May, and the Board of Selectmen is set to vote on the budget in June.