Robert B. Lay, Fire Chief
Public Safety Building
181 Main St
Groveland, MA 01834
For Immediate Release
Friday, Nov. 13, 2015
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Groveland Fire Department Asks Board of Selectmen to Follow Through With Town-Approved Plans to Replace 35-Year-Old Ladder Truck
Only Ladder Truck in Town is a Vital Public Safety Concern
New Truck Identified as Need in 2005, Approved by Town Meeting
GROVELAND – Chief Robert Lay and the members of the Groveland Fire Department are today calling attention to plans by the Groveland Board of Selectmen to, once again, reconsider the funds allocated to the purchase of a vitally needed ladder truck to serve the growing town and its 6,500 residents.
The Groveland Fire Department only operates one ladder truck, town-wide, and it is a 1981 truck that is well-past its expected service life. In 2005, the Town identified the ladder truck as a priority for replacement, and $850,000 was allocated for its replacement. The original purchase was scheduled for 2012 and has since been postponed several times, raising the price of the truck each year that the town delays.
Ladder trucks typically cost more than $1 million.
Last year, the department accepted a reduced rate of $750,000 from the Board of Selectmen, and Chief Lay set out to find a suitable ladder for the department. A truck was identified — a brand new truck manufactured by Rosenbauer Aerials, which fits the needs of the department and provides a safer “platform” style ladder. These trucks are very hard to find, can cost as much as twice the amount allocated to the Groveland Fire Department, and the department has a limited amount of time to purchase the truck.
The department can purchase this truck at such a low price because it is being built as a “demonstrator model,” meaning that the company is using it for trade shows prior to selling it to a fire department. While this adds mileage to the truck, it also lowers the price drastically. Most importantly, the truck has NEVER been used to fight a fire, so it is in mint condition and considered “new.”
Town meeting voted to approve the funds, but the purchase (and the availability of this rare piece of public safety equipment) is now in jeopardy, as the Board of Selectmen has placed an item on its agenda for Monday to reconsider the funds in favor of a reduced allocation for the purchase of a used ladder truck.
The Fire Department will likely not be able to find another such truck if the Board of Selectmen delays or cancels the purchase at this late stage.
“The Board has said that a used ladder truck would be cheaper. This is true. A used ladder truck would be cheaper. It would also be more dangerous and break down more often, and it will need to be replaced sooner than a brand new truck,” Chief Lay said. “I am calling attention to this issue because I am accountable not only to the people of Groveland, who expect the Groveland Fire Department to keep them safe, but also to the members of my department. As chief, I owe my members safe working conditions, and a used ladder truck is simply not worth the up-front savings. A used truck will break down more and ultimately cost more to the taxpayers in maintenance. A used truck is not as safe as a new truck for our firefighters — most of whom live in this community with their families — to use in emergencies.”
Chief Lay offers the following points:
- The Groveland Fire Department’s 1981 ladder truck is unsafe and unreliable and likely would not perform well if a serious fire broke out today in town.
- New fire trucks typically cost more than $1 million. Groveland Fire can purchase a brand new ladder for only $750,000, with all of the modern safety features and technology.
- The town decided nearly 11 years ago that this was a priority.
- A new ladder truck will require less manpower than a used one, saving taxpayer money every time it goes out on a call.
- A new ladder truck, with a platform, is safer for rescues and during firefighting operations
- Groveland is a growing community with many new houses under construction. A front line ladder truck is extremely important for a modern town.
- The fire department only costs each Groveland family $9.79 per month. We have a part-time chief, use on-call firefighters, and provide a tremendous value to the community.
- Town Meeting voted overwhelmingly in favor or the new ladder truck. Only two people voted “no”
- While a “demonstration” ladder truck may have more miles on it than most town fire trucks, the miles were only accumulated by driving to trade shows around the country — not fighting fires. The proposed ladder truck has never seen a fire. It is a brand new truck.
- The current Groveland Fire Department ladder truck was purchased “used” and has broke down numerous times, requiring extensive maintenance and repairs
- A used fire truck will not meet the latest national safety and performance standards as set by the National Fire Protection Association.
- The new demonstration truck will be re-certified as a new trucks and will come with all the new truck warranties, even though it has been driven to trade shows across the country.
“The residents of Groveland voted nearly unanimously for a new ladder truck. We have an obligation to serve our residents in the event of an emergency, and we cannot do it with our current ladder truck, today,” Chief Lay said. “Our firefighters all live in Groveland. They leave their families, their jobs, and their homes at a moment’s notice to risk their lives for the community. It is unfair to ask them to use secondhand equipment that may endanger not only their lives but the lives of our residents, who, as far as they are concerned, already closed this topic several months ago.”