WINSLOW — Town officials have approved the purchase of the second of two firetrucks in need of replacement.

At a meeting Monday night, Winslow councilors unanimously agreed to spend $1.13 million — not including interest — on a quint truck to be financed through a 10-year lease-purchase agreement.

The seven-member council also agreed to waive a second vote on the issue to enable Fire Chief Ronnie Rodriguez to access a discount he negotiated on the vehicle that could otherwise expire.

A quint is a fire vehicle with five functions: It carries ground ladders, a water storage tank, an aerial device, a fire hose and a pump, according to Rodriguez.

The chief said that with proper protective measures, including getting galvanized frame rails and conducting regular rust checks, the vehicle could last the department 20 years or more.

With the 10-year lease agreement, the town will pay $129,900 annually, starting in fiscal year 2021. Interest will total approximately $170,900 over 10 years.

Councilors had been anticipating the request for a quint for some time, but were taken slightly off-guard last month when a mechanic found rust on the frame of the department’s pumper truck that required immediate attention.

Three mechanics from different companies agreed the pumper would not be able to pass its annual state inspection in January. In response, the council quickly moved to authorize the $685,000 purchase of a pumper over a five-year term at its last meeting Nov. 12. That figure includes $41,000 in interest.

“We’ve been hammered here,” Rodriguez acknowledged Monday.

The first payments on both trucks would be due in December 2020, Rodriguez said, though both vehicles will likely arrive by August. Officials reiterated the importance of planning for the Fire Department expenses in the upcoming budget cycle.

“When we look at (the coming year’s budget), we should put some money in the Fire Department’s capital (account) to offset some of these costs for next year,” said Councilor Ray Caron. “If everything is coming through in 2021, we might be able to offset some of the costs by putting some capital away to ease up on things.”

Councilor Ken Fletcher, who advocated for a five-year term for the pumper truck, supported a 10-year term for the quint.

“When you start adding things up, it’s all gonna be dollars,” Fletcher said, “but it seems like it would be wise to try to spread that as much as we can.”

Town officials are also considering a renovation to the Winslow Fire Department in the near future, which they broached briefly Monday, and plan to discuss more in the coming months.

Earlier at the meeting, Rodriguez spoke about the late Capt. Scott Higgins, who died unexpectedly in November. The council unanimously agreed to retire Higgins’ call number, 702, after which Rodriguez presented Higgins’ wife, Dawn Hallee-Higgins, with Higgins’ helmet in an emotional exchange.

More than 20 residents and firefighters appeared in the audience to support the decision.

Monday also marked Fletcher’s last meeting as a town official, after he decided not to pursue reelection this year. Town Manager Mike Heavener presented Fletcher with a plaque that read: “Because of your service, Winslow is a better place to live, work and play.”

Fletcher was on the town council from 2011 to 2019. The outgoing official said the Winslow Council “does more work, asks more questions and spends more time” making decisions than does the state Legislature, in which Fletcher served for eight years.

“I learned long ago that unless you respect each other enough to challenge each other and ask questions, then you aren’t going to get good answers,” Fletcher said. “I ask a lot of questions, but that’s because I have a job to do.”

Other members of the council, as well as Rodriguez, agreed and thanked Fletcher for his dedication to the town. 

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