AUGUSTA — A proposal to borrow up to $650,000 to buy a new firetruck goes to city councilors tonight.

The proposed new rescue and pumper truck, according to Fire Chief Roger Audette, would replace Engine 6, a 1985 truck with 84,000 miles on it. The old truck is a reserve truck kept at the Hospital Street fire station, on the east side of the Kennebec River.

Audette said the new truck would need to be custom-built to be both the primary firetruck for the city’s east side and a rescue vehicle. The chief said the purchase would be the first to take place under a long-term plan to reduce the total number of firetrucks in the city’s fleet by converting to more multipurpose trucks capable of responding to a variety of calls.

“Firetrucks used to just have hoses and water on them,” Audette said, “but now, because of the variety of calls we respond to with them, hazmats, water rescue, accidents … they have to carry a lot more equipment. It needs to be custom-built to do all the stuff and carry all the stuff we need to do our job.”

Engine 6 is one of four engines in the Fire Department — three active, “frontline” trucks and one, Engine 6, which is used only when needed, such as when another truck is down for maintenance.

If bond funding is approved by buy a new truck, Audette said, Engine 2, a 2001 rig with 26,000 miles on it, would move from frontline status to take the place of Engine 6 as the reserve truck.

Audette said fire trucks spend hours operating and idling at emergency scenes, so their mileage isn’t necessarily a good indication of their level of use.

The proposed new engine would serve as a frontline truck, out of Wells Fire Station on Bangor Street.

“Wells station is responsible for a good portion of the interstate, and most of our car accidents are on the east side of the city,” Audette said.

The proposal will go to councilors at their meeting tonight as part of a $750,000 bond package that also includes $100,000 worth of improvements to city streets, sidewalks and related facilities throughout the city.

Councilors may authorize bonds of up to $750,000. Borrowing an amount more than $750,000 would require the approval of residents in a referendum vote, according to the Augusta City Charter.

The charter states bond issues of $750,000 or less require six affirmative votes from the nine members of the council.

Councilors are scheduled to meet at 7 tonight in council chambers at City Center.

They are also scheduled to:

* hear a presentation from Chelsea Town Manager Scott Tilton;

* consider accepting grant funding of $7,300 from the state to help the Police Department conduct underage-drinking education and enforcement.


* consider creating, and appointing members to, the Dog Park Advisory Committee; and

* recognize members of the Augusta Safety Team.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

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