New Forestry 1 should be ready for wildfire season

The old Forestry 1, shown here, will be replaced by a new vehicle.

The Selectboard has approved a proposal to replace the truck used to fight brush fires with a new model at a net cost of $36,742. The money will be drawn from a reserve fund, and Assistant Chief Matt Swett said the new truck is expected to be ready for duty by the start of wildfire season next spring.

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The truck is called Forestry 1. "It is essentially a pickup cab and chassis with a (removable) skid body on the back that contains a forestry pump, hose reel, wild land firefighting tools and highway safety equipment," Swett wrote in a memo to the Selectboard.

In addition to responding to wildfires in Norwich and around the Upper Valley, Swett wrote, the truck carries cones, signs and lighting used to create a safe working space around motor vehicle accident scenes.

The old Forestry 1 was damaged in an accident last fall. Work had actually begun on a repair-and-switch plan to put the old skid on a used plow truck chassis from Public Works. That might have sufficed for another three to eight years, Swett wrote.

Instead, the Selectboard accepted a Fire Department recommendation to take a longer view, buying a new Ford 550 chassis with an expected lifetime of 15 to 25 years. The new truck, Swett wrote, "will give us a piece of apparatus that (is) safer, more functional and more dependable than the used ... chassis, and will easily serve the town for more than a decade longer."

The total cost of buying and outfitting the new vehicle was $63,557, but after applying $14,815 in insurance money from the accident and $12,000 the board had already appropriated for outfitting under the repair-and-switch plan, the net cost approved by the board on Sept. 26 amounted to $36,742.

That sum will be drawn from the Apparatus Designated Fund. The department recommends replenishing that amount over several years, Swett wrote.

The board's vote was 3-0, with John Pepper, Linda Cook and Mary Layton voting. Claudette Brochu and John Langhus were absent.  


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