Tough questions about a new ladder truck

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One of the items you’ll get to vote on at the special town meeting next month is whether to appropriate money for a new ladder truck. The precise amount of money and where the funds would come from are still to be determined, but total cost estimates are in the $900K range. About $350K has been raised through donations.

Selectmen have said they’re in favor of purchasing a ladder truck, but it’s likely the question will generate some debate at town meeting. At one of their recent meetings, selectmen and members of the Advisory Committee shared questions they think voters might ask.

Here are some they came up with:

  • Why do we need a ladder truck?
  • There are a limited number of structural fires in town. Is the cost of a ladder truck justified?
  • We’ve lived without one for a couple of years now, can’t we continue to get by?
  • There are some low bridges in town. Will the ladder truck be able to make it under all of them?
  • What about sharing equipment with neighboring towns?
  • Since we have mutual aid agreements with bordering towns, is there a chance our new ladder truck would be in such high demand that it might not be available when we need it?
  • Do we give more than we receive in mutual aid? By purchasing a new ladder truck, are we in effect subsidizing other towns?
  • When you consider public safety needs as a whole, is a ladder truck the best use of our money?

Which of these questions do you think is most crucial? What ones would you add to the list?

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John Mauro, Jr
13 years ago

A tremendous amount of work has gone into researching the ladder issue.

The answers to these questions and a lot more can be found in a report formulated by the Fire Department Ladder Committee at:

http://southboroughfire.org/Aerial%20Report%20FINAL%2011-25-08.pdf

Members of the Ladder Committee will be presenting a public information forum on the replacement in early September. In the mean time, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at: firechief@southboroughma.com

Papa Rosa
13 years ago

The report John Mauro points to is a good solid document that should certainly be part of the discussion. However, it’s fair to point out that virtually the entire Fire Department Ladder Committee are firefighters active or retired – and that these folks have a natural, and understandable, tilt in favor of the new truck.

So I call again for a neutral third-party consultant to assess the town’s needs and finances, then issue a recommendation. There are consultants for everything today – surely there must be one that’s expert in this arena, and is accustomed to looking at both safety needs and fiscal constraints.

pepper
13 years ago

I think they had a consultant come in a few years ago and told them they needed to hire more fire fighters. I could be wrong but it think thats what the outcome was from that study. Did it get us anywhere? Can someone answer me that?
Thanks,
Pepper

John
13 years ago

The public safety study called for an immediate increase in staffing to safe levels (this has never been accomplished), they needed to upgrade some equipment (partially accomplished). The study was thrust upon the town by then Advisory Committe members Ray Grenier and Marty Healy. They absolutely did NOT like what the consulting firm came up with. Spending money on public safety, particularly the fire department, was not part of what they wanted to hear. Since then the study, while mentioned from time to time, has largely been ignored, and perhaps “swept under the rug”. It’s too bad really. Every time the town spends money on a study, if it leads to spending money, it sort of fades away. As for Papa…..not everyone on the committee was a firefighter.

John Mauro, Jr
13 years ago

Pepper: The Town appropriated funds and commissioned a “Fire and Police Staffing, Equipment and Facilities Study” in 1999. A Selectmen-appointed Public Safety Study Committee reviewed Requests for Proposals and chose Public Safety Consultants of Boulder, CO to conduct the study. The two principals of Public Safety Consultants were former fire and police chiefs. The Committee Chair presented a report to the Annual Town Meeting in 2000.

Papa: The Town already has “consultants” in place – the Department Heads are charged with operating their respective departments in accordance with Federal, State and Local laws & standards and best industry practices in a fiscally-responsible manner. The Town’s Selectmen and Advisory Committee review all requests for budgets, capital items, etc. and make recommendations. It is the registered voters of the community who have the final say and are the ultimate decision-makers when it comes to municipal spending.

Marty
13 years ago

Chief,

You and your committee deserve a tip of the hat for all the hard work you have done.

Papa Rosa – your statement about the composition of the committee may be correct, but you its hard to ignore the wide spread support this issue has throughout the town. It was terrific to see the wide range to towns people in attendance at the Dire Ball last year.

Now if only we could get some of those in attendance to come to town meeting!

roland
13 years ago

we bought a suthen 75 ft quint new for 640,000

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