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Joyce Endee

Boston Fire Department loans engine to Littleton


July 29, 2021
LITTLETON — Littleton residents shouldn't worry if they see a Boston fire engine out on the streets, as it's become the newest addition to the Littleton Fire Department fleet.

According to Fire Chief Mike McQuillen, the 2011 KME engine fills a void created in May, when Engine Four was retired from service earlier than anticipated. Once the fire engine has been fitted with new decals, it will become Engine Two.

"The crews at Littleton Fire have spent the last few weeks mounting equipment and tools so that the apparatus is set up to function the way our fire and rescue department operates. In the next few weeks, crews will be training on the engine to complete driver training, pump operations and vehicle placement in different areas of the town," stated McQuillen.

The new engine is similar to Engine Four in that it also has a four-person cab and carries approximately 750 gallons of water. However, McQuillen said the Boston engine also had fewer miles and more power, which would make it far easier for crews to climb hills quickly.

McQuillen also said the Boston Fire Department extended the new vehicle for an indefinite amount of time.

"I've been in this field for a long time and know a lot of people throughout the New England area. So I started looking at another department that had more robust vehicle replacement programs than we do. Through my connections, I was able to ask someone in Boston if they had a truck they would be willing to sell, and they said that we could just use it," explained the fire chief.

In March, voters narrowly approved a five-year lease for a new fire engine. At that time, the intention was to replace Engine Six and keep Engine Four out on the road until the new vehicle was fully paid.

However, Fleet Manager Bruce Russell uncovered extensive damages on Engine Four in late May that had not previously been detected. Ongoing mechanical problems and severe corrosion meant it needed to be retired immediately.

Municipal audit issues further exacerbated the problem in late June. Town officials indicated that the voter-approved purchase would be delayed by several months until all annual audits had been brought current.

The generous donation from the Boston Fire Department has alleviated some concerns about the Littleton Fire Department's ability to respond to co-occurring emergencies swiftly. However, a long-term vehicle replacement plan remains of critical importance.

According to fire industry standards, the expected lifespan for most engines is twenty years. The five-year lease payment approved by voters in March is the first step to help stabilize the town's tax rate and allow such critical improvements to happen on a rolling basis.

"The problem is that we haven't had a capital reserve plan for the Littleton Fire Department in some time. A lot of the stuff hasn't been accounted for, but I'm trying to move it forward so it doesn't bring a large impact on the voters," said McQuillen.

"The fire truck replacement is a tremendous need this year. We need to start the replacement program and get a decent fire truck in here that's going to serve the citizens and the community well into the next ten to 15 years," he added.

McQuillen estimated the fire department could get six to twelve months of use from the new loaner engine without any issues. His long-term goal is to roll the lease payment over into a second vehicle after the first new engine is paid for in full.

If there are any questions, please contact Chief Michael McQuillen or the duty officer at the station at 444-2137.

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