PEPPERELL — The fire trucks are showing their age, and selectmen voted Monday to issue a $20,000 Band-Aid.
Fire Department officials came to selectmen with bad news on Monday. The ladder truck is out of order and one of the three forestry trucks has gone on its final call.
“The question is, what do we do with this truck?” Assistant Fire Chief Peter Shattuck asked about the ladder truck. “Right now, time is of the essence.”
“It is the safety of our people,” he continued. The ladder truck is used to get firefighters to the top of roofs and was used to evacuate a building when the hallways were full of smoke.
The truck was purchased new in 1987. The pistons supporting the ladder need to be replaced, said Fire Chief Toby Tyler. The ladder drifts and will not pass certification.
The truck is outdated and tired, Shattuck said.
“We had a meeting and decided to go to you guys,” he told selectmen. The cost for the repair could be $20,000 or more, he said.
Another option might be to find a used truck. He said cities do not hold on to their equipment as long as towns do, and something suitable might be available. A new ladder truck can cost $1 million.
The problem, Tyler said, is that right now there is no ladder truck in Pepperell. It can take 15 or 20 minutes for equipment from another town to arrive.
“We have to repair it,” said Town Administrator Mark Andrews. As he recommended, the selectmen voted to approve a reserve-fund transfer of $20,000.
The town is in the process of restructuring its debt service, Andrews said. He would need to know the cost of a replacement truck in order to see what type of capacity the town will have in the future to borrow for a truck.
The forestry truck, a 1963 International, needs a new rear end, Shattuck said. The last time the truck needed a rear end, the department had to wait many weeks before finding a part in Maine. Now, there are no parts.
That truck does not need to be replaced immediately, Tyler said. The department has a new utility-task vehicle donated by members of the Hook and Ladder Company.
By adding an $8,200 skid unit to the back, it can respond to forest fires, he said.
“It wouldn’t give us a truck,” he said, “It would give us a unit that can go into the woods.”
Maybe the purchase can be on the fall Town Meeting, he said.
In other news:
* The town received $62,377 for winter road repairs that must be used by the end of June, Andrews said. The Highway Department plans pavement work on Lowell Road and Elm Street. Any remaining funds will be used to replace outdated guardrail on Elm Street.
* The town’s health-insurance carrier, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, gave back $15,072 to Pepperell. In all, the association released $5 million across the state, Andrews said.
* Selectmen appointed Michelle Ross as the new outreach coordinator at the Senior Center. The Pepperell woman said she has worked with elders in assisted living and their families, educating them about the care of those with Alzheimer’s disease.
* The Pepperell Garden Club received permission to place signs in its gardens on town-owned property.
* A liquor license was transferred to Devi and Atmaram Patel, who will do business as Ray’s Package Store. No changes in hours are expected.
* Selectmen approved two other reserve-fund transfers: $12,000 for legal services to cover additional costs from collective bargaining with a new Fire Department union and $15,000 for veterans’ services. There was an influx of veterans needing services and 75 percent of the money will be reimbursed by the state, Andrews said.