Fire District No. 1 welcomes new engine

Jul 26, 2018

The new fire truck smell mixed with freshly grilled burgers was in the air at Fire District No. 1’s Bridge Street station on July 25, as the department welcomed its newest fire engine with a cookout.

The new engine, custom built for the department, comes fitted out with a host of new safety features and is a much more efficient design than the engine it is replacing-- one that dates back to 1993.

Tim Lancaster, who was part of the committee that designed the engine, described many of the features that make the engine well suited to the district. The engine is shorter than most other current models, which is important for an area with a lot of low hanging trees over side streets and lanes.

The low height doesn’t mean a compromise in functionality, however, as the ladders are stored in a compartment at an easy-to-reach height, and the 1,000 gallon water tank is L-shaped to accommodate the storage in the back of the engine.

One of the thoughtful features of the truck that many are excited about is a set of four compartments, two on each side of the cab, that hold a water canister and a canister of chemical fire extinguisher.

Like the ladders, these compartments are at a height that make it easy for firefighters to jump out and grab what they need without climbing or reaching over their heads. The cabinets also have a cup-holder-like piece that tips out so retrieval of the canister is easy, and the canisters won’t fall out onto the ground.

Paul Grondalski of Pierce Manufacturing, the company that built the truck, said it took about eight or nine months to build it to District No. 1’s specifications.

“People from different parts of the country have been looking at this and saying, ‘Why didn’t I think of this?’” Chief Brad Ellis said of the engine’s design.

Deputy Chief Jake Bettencourt said that this engine is designed to quickly take on a fire.

“It’s a lot of water, a lot of power,” Bettencourt said. “We could probably sell the rest of the engines!”

Steve Howland has been a member of the department for thirty years, and his family has been involved with the district for at least fifty years. He said that while a lot of the technology has changed, the basic principles of fire fighting have stayed the same.

“You still gotta put the wet stuff on the hot stuff,” he laughed.