DUDLEY - In the second of two public hearings sponsored by the Dudley Selectmen on Monday night, Fire Chief Dean Kochanowski requested that the selectmen sponsor a ballot question to request a debt exclusion for the sole purpose of purchasing a new ladder truck for the town. The cost of the new truck is $750,000. The number seems quite daunting, but after hearing the chief speak, backed up by the town treasurer, Richard Carmignani, and a break-down of the per average household cost by a concerned citizen, it actually didn’t seem so bad.
The reason the chief is requesting a new ladder truck is because the aging, 32 year-old truck the town currently owns is in “horrible condition,” according to the chief. He stated, with much conviction, that he didn’t believe the current truck would last more than a year or two at most. He believes it is basically unsafe for his people, but it is instrumental in fighting fires. He worries every time one of his men goes up.
A new truck would last 25 to 30 years, according to Kochanowski. He has looked into other options, like buying a used truck and lowering the floor of the current station (older trucks are bigger and don’t fit like a new one would.) The cost was more than purchasing new. He also looked into 75-foot ladders, as opposed to 100-foot ladder trucks, but after a survey of the properties in Dudley, he confirmed that the smaller size wouldn’t serve the town adequately.
He pointed out, that unlike an override which stays on the books until it’s overturned, a debt exclusion is only on the books until it is paid off. Additionally he stated that the cost of this “lifesaving” apparatus comes at an average cost of only $21 per household, or $1.75 per month. Kochanowski went on to show pictures of both the homes in town which necessitate the 100 foot ladder, but also the current ladder truck. The truck which is now in use had a bowed frame that prevents roof ladders from being carried on the truck. He also showed where the high-pressure hydraulic system’s main drive is leaking and where the frame is beginning to show signs of rotting. There is a piston in need of repair, which costs $13,000. Many of the parts that need replacement can’t be replaced because they are no longer available due to the age of the machine. This leaves the firemen and women using broken equipment. Additionally, the truck is not NFDA compliant.
Carmingnani assured tax-payers that this purchase has been on the capital improvement plans for three years. It is an expense that the town has expected. Additionally, there are other debt exclusions which will be paid off in the coming year, namely the library project.
One question asked by a townsperson was whether this could wait until May’s meeting. The frank answer from the chief was, “no.” Not only would the cost probably rise, but the time it takes to build the ladder truck would probably extend past the time the current truck would be usable.
Chairman Jonathan Ruda, prior to the vote as to whether or not to put the request for the debt exclusion on the ballot, stated that this was not to be taken as a scare tactic. He reassured the people that Chief Kochanowski would take the current truck out of service should it become a true danger to the department.
Selectmen Joseph countered by saying that both requests, this one for the debt exclusion and the prop two and a half over-ride “are must have—got to have!” The unanimous vote to include this ballot item followed quickly.
- Tuesday, 17 July 2012
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