SHIRLEY — The town’s 30-year-old ladder truck is past its prime and needs to be replaced, a purchase with an $800,000 price tag.
The shiny, red truck looks to be in good repair, but the appearance is just the result of Band-Aids, said Fire Chief Dennis Levesque.
The truck does not meet National Fire Protection Association standards for firefighter and truck safety. The frame and undercarriage are tired. The hydraulics for the ladder are not in good shape.
On Sept. 12, voters in a special town election will be asked to pass an $800,000 debt exclusion to buy a new truck. In May, Town Meeting voted by a two-thirds majority to place the question on the ballot.
The truck will be about the same size as the existing Ladder One, but will meet the newer standards.
A ladder truck has an expected 20- to 25-year life span if a major refurbishment is done, Levesque said. Ladder One was refurbished and has been in use at least five years more than most.
The value of the current truck is $4,000, he said. Scrap.
If the debt exclusion fails, it will take about $50,000 to bring the truck up to code, he said. Then, the vehicle will be good until something else major fails.
Unlike the old ladder truck, the one the department is looking to buy does not have a pumper. That saves about $50,000, Levesque said.
A new pumper truck is scheduled to arrive in October. The $530,000 purchase, replacing another 30-year-old-truck, was part of the capital budget approved at Town Meeting in fall 2016, Levesque said.
It will take about a year for a new ladder truck to arrive if the funds are approved, he said.
An estimate posted outside the town clerk’s office, provided information about the potential impact on tax bills. In year one of the borrowing, the truck would cost the owner of a median home $36.65.
Over the 15 years of the term, the owner of that home valued in 2017 at $282,200 would pay $470.16.
“It’s time. It’s 30 years old,” the chief said. When it comes to the safety of firefighters, that’s No. 1.”
Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter @a1oconnor.