Maine Firefighters Help Buy New Truck

HOULTON - A contingent of Houlton firefighters gathered at a Town Council meeting earlier this week to emphasize their need for a new rescue truck.

The group didn't just speak about the need - they offered to help purchase the vehicle. Councilors voted unanimously to accept $25,000 from the Sockanossett Hose Co., which is the volunteer unit of the department.

The group specified that $20,000 of the donation go toward the fiscal year 2006 payment on the truck, and the remaining money be used to convert the existing rescue truck to a brush truck.

The new truck will replace a 1992 model that is now too small for the department's needs. It will be used by both the fire and ambulance departments.

The old rescue truck will be recycled into a brush truck to replace a model furnished in the 1950s.

Phil Cloney, a firefighter and president of SHC 1, told the group that the unit decided to donate the money for a simple reason: "We need this equipment."

Houlton provides both fire and ambulance services for surrounding towns, which requires carrying a wealth of tools. They also respond to accidents and other calls at the Houlton port of entry and on Interstate 95.

When addressing the issue with councilors earlier this year, Fire Chief Milton Cone said his crews now have to put their extrication and life-saving equipment on two trucks just to get it to an accident scene. The 1992 model will no longer hold it all.

Councilors set aside $43,200 for Phase 1 of the five-phase vehicle purchase while planning the budget last year, but Town Manager Douglas Hazlett explained that the town had not yet bid for the truck.

The total cost of the vehicle is estimated at $200,000.

"It has been budgeted, but it has not been committed to the bid process," he added.

Councilors praised the group and thanked them for their generosity during the nearly two-hour meeting.