Fire truck buy spurs Weston board to improve purchase procedure

By Christopher Biddle
© 2016 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Weston SB on fire truck purchase

Standing left, Chief Wes Hupp and Norman Hart of the Weston Volunteer Fire Department show speculative blueprints of a possible firetruck to be purchased by the town of Weston.

With lessons learned from the unforeseen length of time it took to take delivery of a new town dump truck, and with the forthcoming purchase of a new fire truck, the Weston Select Board wants to improve the way it plans for big-ticket equipment costs.

At its regular meeting last Tuesday night, the board received an update from Norman Hart and Chief Wes Hupp of the Weston Volunteer Fire Department, who said they’d narrowed their search for a truck to replace the department’s oldest vehicle to two companies, and that they were hoping to have the order completed this summer to receive delivery sometime in 2017.

Hart showed a speculative mockup of the vehicle by 4 Guys Stainless Steel Fire Trucks, which built the 1987 Kodiak tanker currently in use by the department. The new truck will have a 2,000-gallon tank and a pump for refilling. The department added the pump to its wish-list after Tropical Storm Irene, when it became clear that there was a need for a truck that could refill on site.

The new truck will also serve as the department’s only ladder-truck, once the 35-foot piece from the old truck is transferred to the new one. Hart said other pieces of equipment will be transferred to the new truck as well, depending on their level of wear.

Kovatch Mobile Equipment Corp. is the other company that will be bidding. According to Hart, Kovatch built the other two trucks that the department owns. Those were built in 2004 and 2008.

Hart said the department is “guesstimating” a cost of about $300,000 for the new truck, which would require putting an additional $49,000 in the town’s Fire Department fund by the end of 2017. The department had to take a one-year loan for the purchase of the last fire truck.

Board member Anne Fuji’i asked, “Why haven’t we put more away, built the fund more, that we wouldn’t necessarily have to go out for a loan? Did we not anticipate the cost? Just looking toward the future … the idea is to try to have a fund so that when you need to replace something, we have the money available and we’re not scrambling at the last minute or extending ourselves with loans and things.”

Hart said the annual appropriation had jumped from $25,000 a year to $35,000, but that the department had not anticipated such a high price.

Acting chair Jim Linville, who was filling in for Dennis Benson, asked Hart and Hupp to submit a refined equipment budget as way of avoiding future short-comings.

“My thought is wow, after 30 years (of owning the the Kodiak tanker), we’re cutting it pretty darn close,” said Linville. “I’d love to have … what equipment do you have now, when did you buy it, when do you think you’re going to have to replace it and then any guesses we can have on the cost.”

The board asked Hart and Hupp to attend the Tuesday, June 14 board meeting to open bids from both 4 Guys and Kovatch.

Little School needs paint job

Christine Falango of the Little School also attended the meeting to notify the board that the Town Annex, where the pre-school is housed, is in need of a new paint job. The board asked administrative assistant Cheryl Barker to draft a request for bids, which the board will share with the Little School before releasing it to the public.

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About the Author: Christopher Biddle is a journalist, radio DJ and lifelong Vermonter. He hosts the 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday Rewind show on 102.7 WEQX. In addition to The Chester Telegraph and The Mountain Times he has written for other local publications. His audio work includes stories for VPR and Slate Magazine's podcast network. He collects VHS tapes and knows how to use a chainsaw.

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