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Chesterfield special Town Meeting authorizes spending up to $495,000 for new fire truck

In a 20-minute Powerpoint presentation, Fire Chief David Hewes detailed the options that were available to replace the Smeal Attack pumper that the town bought in 2007 for $300,000.

The chief explained that the cost of fire engines had increased over the years mostly because of upgrades required by National Fire Prevention Association.

Hewes also detailed the differences between the $265,000 tanker pumpers like Huntington’s and the attack engines recently purchased by Goshen for $445,000 and Cummington for $490,000.

“Keep in mind an attack engine has different equipment and is not like a tanker pumper that is built to haul water,” he said.

The chief told residents that one available option was to purchase a commercial cab, which would be modified and transformed into a fire engine, for $450,000. The other option was to select a custom cab, which would be built from the ground up to serve as a fire engine, for $485,000.

Hewes said that while the custom cab costs $35,000 more than the commercial cab, its crash protection is seven times greater, and it has the capacity to fit six firefighters in turnout gear. The commercial cab fits only two fire fighters with no gear.

“I think that alone is worth the $35,000, Hewes said.

After little discussion, residents unanimously voted in favor of purchasing the custom cab to the tune of $495,000.

The cause of the accident that destroyed the Smeal Attack pumper remains a mystery, as does the amount of money the town will receive from its insurance company.

The truck was 15 minutes away from New England Fire Equipment and Apparatus Corp. in North Haven, Conn., where it was due for repairs, when it caught fire, totally destroying the vehicle.

“It was definitely oil-driven,” Hewes said. “Whether it was transmission fluid or hydraulic fluid, nobody is sure.”

According to Hewes, the town’s insurance company, Miia Insurance, has estimated the value of the destroyed engine at $217,000, but he believes this to be a low-ball estimate and has requested that the town’s legal counsel get involved in the negotiations.

“I personally received two different estimates, one from New England Fire for $240,000 and the other from Greenwood Fire Apparatus for $260,000,” Hewes said. “I don’t want to take a check for $217,000, because once we do that is what we have to accept.”

Hewes said he did not want to hold up the purchase of the vehicle while the town’s insurance company haggled over the value of the truck.

“We really needed to move forward with this,” Hewes said. “Not having a truck like this in town, I don’t sleep well at night.”

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