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.
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.