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Canton Selectmen Endorse Plan to Purchase Two Fire Engines

Proposal would require some funding from town reserves, approval of finance board, residents needed.

While the town had prepared to replace one fire engine this fiscal year, selectmen on Monday endorsed a plan to purchase two. Approval from the Board of Finance and voters would still be needed.

The reason for the needed approval is that the low bid cost to replace two engines is $899,000, which is approximately $275,000 more than the capital funding the town has set aside for fire apparatus. Those remaining funds would come from the town’s reserves.  

The town anticipates it could get some money from selling the two engines being replaced but the exact amount would have to be determined and the funds would go back into the capital account for apparatus replacement.

As the town recently put out a bid to replace a “Class A Pumper,” town of Canton Volunteer Fire and EMS Department officials asked that an option for two be included in the estimates.

The department gave several reasons for the idea of replacing two at once, specifically its Engine 6, which is approximately 20 years old and its Engine 1, approximately 25.

Engine 6 is the more critical replacement, Deputy Chief Craig Robbins told selectmen. The apparatus has corrosion issues, intermittent electrical problems and needs new rear springs and brakes, exhaust, brake lines and pump repairs.

Engine 1 has been more reliable but is starting to show its age and in the past years has needed rear brakes and drums, an alternator, front suspension, steering components and batteries, Robbins said. It will also likely need a complete pump rebuild in the next year, estimated at $10,000.

Fire officials felt replacing both at once could result in some savings as well as get the town’s replacement plan back on schedule. In 2009, at Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner’s request, the department suggested the town put aside $160,000 per year for new apparatus but the town has allotted $115,000 per year.

"For that reason we strongly feel that replacing the two trucks is the right way to go,” Robbins said.

The lowest bidder for the project put the replacement for two engines is $899,000, while one would be $458,632.

“I’m disappointed; I thought we’d see more significant savings than $17,000,” First Selectman Richard Barlow said.

Selectmen also expressed some concerns about dipping again into the fund balance when they are already asking residents on Dec. 12 to approve $400,000 in improvements to Mills Pond Pool.

“I wish it had hit the table the same time as the pool,” selectmen Lowell Humphrey said.

Assuming the pool funding were to pass, Chief Financial Officer Amy O’Toole estimates the fund balance at $4,548,354, about 13.22 percent of the town’s 2012-2013 budget.

“I guess I’m not in favor of going back to the well but given the circumstance I guess I can see it,” Barlow said.

Selectmen unanimously approved the idea. The Board of Finance will discuss the matter in a special meeting Monday night and, if passed, selectmen hope to bring it to the public on Dec. 12, the same night as the proposed pool improvements. 

Wyatt December 03, 2012 at 06:18 PM
@Andrew. Thanks for the responses. I appreciate your passion and faith and understand that you see an extremely limited role for the government. Yet how would you fund that extremely limited government - defense? admin(i.e. Congress's electric bills?), etc? Also, do you really see no role for government in transportation? I fail to see how that would work...
Andrew Ziemba December 03, 2012 at 09:19 PM
For the limited amount of government that I would envision, I believe a consumption based tax system is the most fair way to be taxed. I do believe roads should be privatized.
Wyatt December 03, 2012 at 10:01 PM
@Andrew. I agree with you on the consumption tax. It is better to tax spending than savings, investment or labor. On roads, I can see them being privatized but only with some sort of government planning oversight/regulation.
Benevolus December 06, 2012 at 02:24 AM
The average salary of a paid firefigther is $55,000 per year plus benefits the employer has to pay. Canton's Fire Department is 100% Volunteer with a very low paid per call benefit as a retention tool. For a town the sides of Canton you will need to staff each firehouse with 8 to 10 firefigthers to cover 24/7. So 24 fireman at $55,0000 will be $1,320,000; to that you should add the cost for officers to managed each firehouse, Chiefs, Captains and LTs. We are probably talking around $2,000.000 a year. as an example check the police department budget. I AM deeply disturbed by the fact that Canton will rather expend money on tracks, pool and other non essencials and we do it to improved our community and for a brighter future for our kids, but when it comes to emergency equipment that will protect the lifes of the people protecting the citizen's lifes for free, we get 40 plus negative comments on this blog. I have been a member of the fire department for almost 10 years but I will gladly give my turnout gear to any person that wants it and think they can do a better job for free and will be willing to go into an extructure fire on a hose connected to a 30 years old truck with pumps problems so you can save couple bucks. And Fred you already an avid scanner listener and looks like to have a good plan on how to manage the fire department, please stop at any firehouse any monday around 7pm and any of our members will be happy to give you an application to join the department.
Ryan December 07, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Fred, what is heard through the scanner is not everything. There are a few issues that we have. With the way things are these days, it usually takes multiple apparatus to get the manpower required to take care of even the most simple calls. I cannot recall the last time that every truck has responded to one call. That simply does not happen. There is a point in a vehicles life where the repairs start to mount to a point where it is more cost effective to replace the vehicle as opposed to paying for continued repairs. That is true with every vehicle on the road and both of these engines are to that point. At $50k a year that would allow for a new truck every 8-10 years meaning that each truck would have to last about 70 years. The fund rate was recommended to be $160k a year which would give a truck a life cycle of about 20-25 years. This life cycle allows for the trucks to be replaced before they start to cost too much to repair, which is where these two engines are now. The replacement budget to this point has been funded at $115k a year. This extra purchase would put the fleet back on track to be replaced in a proper time frame as opposed to 30 plus years. If you would like to be part of the solution feel free to come down and put in an application. We always welcome the help. All of the departments requests and actions are made in the interest of providing the best possible protection to the town and its residents.

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