Naples pumper purchase in progress

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — A 2008 water-pumping truck will likely join the Naples Fire and Rescue Department’s fleet — certainly before Christmas.

The replacement vehicle has been on the fire department’s wish list for a while. Money has been set aside in a reserve — at a rate of $20,000 a year — for this anticipated purchase.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Naples Fire Chief Chris Pond had been in the process of negotiating, offering a lower price and a list of changes that could be made by the seller, according to Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak.

“We are trying to work them down on the price. We haggled back and forth today. We are pretty close to agreement,” he said on Tuesday. “I can tell you that it is $130,000 less” than the cost estimates for a new fire apparatus, Paraschak said.

“The chief understands used is a better deal,” he said.

The town gave the company, Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus LLC, headquartered in Alabama, an offering price of $186,000, but that was a moving number as the price negotiations took place, he said.

On Monday, Chief Pond told the Naples Board of Selectmen about the used fire apparatus that the fire department was seriously eying.

“For our town, it would serve us for 18 to 20 years. It would fix the immediate problem and do it for a lot less money than what a new truck” costs, Pond said.

“The truck looked pretty good. We found a few things for them to fix with an offer on the truck. It is a 2008. So, it has some age and 11,000 miles on it,” he said.

If purchased, the truck will replace Engine No. 3, which is an urban interface truck. The main job of the apparatus is to pump water.

Fire Chief Pond requested that the board release the money in the department’s reserve fund so that he could move forward with the purchase.

The board voted, 4-0, to allocate $230,000 from the Fire Apparatus Reserve Fund for the purchase and outfitting of the truck.

Selectman Rich Cebra was not present at the meeting since he was at home recovering from a recent surgery.

The 2008 fire apparatus was located in Louisiana. According to Paraschak, over the weekend, he and Chief Pond flew out to see the vehicle in person. “The company we are dealing with as soon as you inspect it, they know you are serious. So, we quickly flew out to see it,” he said.

He said the cost of the plane tickets will be covered by money from the replacement pumper fund.

“Like the ladder truck we purchased – that was a ‘demo.’ It saved the town a couple hundred thousand dollars,” he said.

At Monday’s meeting, he told the board about the find. “We stumbled upon a used truck. We inquired. They put the truck on a two-day hold. We flew out to see it. Now, it is on a two-week hold” for the Town of Naples, Paraschak said.

“This is the largest used fire truck in the country. It would come with a one-year warranty,” he said. “It has a lifetime structural warranty. It has an aluminum body. The problem with most trucks is that they rust out,” he said.

He said Engine No. 3 is old, “on its last leg.”

As part of it regular capital replacement plan, the town sets aside $20,000 a year for future fire apparatuses.

“The chief and I have been spec’ing out new trucks. We even looked for demo trucks. The average price was $340,000 — that’s a lot of money to spend on a truck,” he said.

The for sale vehicle is likely to cost less than $200,000, he said, and it is well suited for work in Maine. “This truck has a front suction. You pull up to the lake, and have suction in the front. Not real common — usually suction is on the sides, he said.

This detail will make work easier for firefighters, he said. Additionally, the replacement rig is a four-wheel drive, and it has an International motor.

Paraschak told the board Pond had done some research into the truck’s history. Pond had spoken with a former owner of the truck, the chief for a fire department in Missouri. “The truck was used at a rookie school. It had never been on a fire call,” Pond said.

Chairman Bob Caron II said it was important for Naples residents to have a well-equipped public safety department. Then, he asked about getting a trade-in cost for the old pumper truck.

Pond said it wasn’t promising.

“We would put the truck out to bid. Anyone who would look at it would get back in their truck and drive away. The amount of rust showing up on a truck (would deter buyers.) It’s a 92 vehicle, its age is showing bad,” Pond said.

Caron also asked about the cost to make the truck more suitable for the department’s needs.

Paraschak answered that question. “The biggest expense would be air packs. The department is low on air packs. This truck is equipped for air packs. The truck would need three at $4,700 a piece,” he said.

Air packs are the face masks with an oxygen supply that firefighters wear into a building.

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