WINDSOR — Firefighters made their pitch to borrow $350,000 to buy a new pumper truck with a six-person cab to a small crowd Tuesday that included selectmen who don’t recommend the proposed purchase because they think the new rig would be more truck than Windsor needs.

Fire Chief Arthur Strout and his son, Assistant Chief Dennis Strout, said they considered smaller and used trucks as a way to save money, but said those trucks wouldn’t meet the town’s firefighting needs, wouldn’t be able to haul the necessary equipment, and might not be reliable enough to be a front-line firetruck firefighters can trust with their lives and the lives of residents.

“We’re not talking about a personal vehicle you just drive down the road,” Dennis Strout said in response to a resident who suggested putting money into the old truck to keep it going longer. “We’re talking an emergency vehicle that’s got lives on the line. Not just our lives; townspeople as well. You’ve got guys on the other end of that hose, relying on that truck running.”

The truck would replace a 28-year-old truck the department bought used in the late 1990s, which firefighters fear will soon not be able to pump enough water to remain certified. Arthur Strout, a 56-year firefighter, said the pump on the old truck passed its last certification test, but just barely, and it might not pass another. He said putting money into such an old truck would be a bad investment.

The new truck would cost about $406,000 and be paid for with $50,000 from a reserve account, up to $10,000 from the Windsor Volunteer Firefighter fundraising account, and a $350,000 loan that, according to Town Manager Theresa Haskell, would cost $67,000 in interest over the 10-year life of the loan.

Neither selectmen nor the Budget Committee recommend voters approve the proposed firetruck purchase, which is scheduled to be voted on in a secret-ballot vote at the June 9 election. The secret-ballot vote is the day before the Town Meeting, at which other town funding items will be considered in an open meeting, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 10.


Ray Bates, chairman of the selectmen, said four selectmen voted against recommending the purchase and one selectman abstained. He said they think the truck is bigger and more expensive than it needs to be.

“We felt they’re asking for too much truck,” Bates said of firefighters. “The extended cab adds something like $100,000 to the cost. And it could have accessibility issues, getting down some of our more narrow roads.”

The Strouts said the six-person enclosed cab of the truck would provide a place firefighters in their full turnout gear and with air tanks still on could get into at a fire scene to take a break from battling flames. They said it could be a cool spot when it’s hot and a warm spot when they are fighting fires in the freezing cold.

“We’re not asking for anything other towns don’t have,” Dennis Strout said.

He said they wanted the truck last year but were asked by selectmen and the Budget Committee to wait a year, so another truck could be fully paid off first.

Resident Jeff Frankel said he was skeptical about the purchase at first but changed his mind after learning more about the need and the truck.


“We did squeak by this year, but it’s really a matter of borrowed time. When will there be a large structure fire where a modern firetruck would make it easier to fight the fire?” Frankel said. “The way I look at it, it’s not buying a truck for the Fire Department; it’s buying a truck for ourselves. My line of work doesn’t involve putting my life on the line or the confusion of a fire scene, but in any line of work, it’s a matter of having the right tools for the job.”

Firefighters said they sought bidders after they settled on what they need in the new truck, got four bidders and selected the cheapest, E-One

At the start of the public hearing, Arthur Strout had the approximately 24 people at the meeting go outside Windsor Elementary School to see the 1987 truck that would be replaced, parked in front of a 2006 truck similar to the truck they propose to buy. The 2006 truck was Jefferson’s, a mutual-aid partner of Windsor.

The department now has seven trucks, including two pumpers. If voters approve buying a new truck, the 1987 pumper would be sold, though Dennis Strout said it’ll sell probably only for around $5,000.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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