RICHMOND, Maine — When fire departments receive the call to duty, it's important they have reliable equipment to get tough jobs done. However, aging fleets of fire trucks are challenging fire departments.
In the town of Richmond, maintenance to its fire department's aging fleet has cost the town nearly $40,000 already this year.
The majority of the town's five trucks are between 20 and 30-years-old.
Richmond Fire Chief John Bellino says,"It's extremely important the emergency vehicles are reliable. They could be needed any day at any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
Just last week, maintenance work took four of Richmond's five trucks out of service.
While all but one truck is back in action now, Bellino says investing in a more reliable fleet is something the town should be thinking about.
"Given the ages of the vehicles, it's probably a sooner rather than later thing in terms of needing a new vehicle."
Richmond town manager Adam Garland says in the past year, says the town is aware of the on-going maintenance to the fire department's fleet.
However, Garland says the town is not ready to "okay" a new truck right now.
"Public safety, for both fire and police, is of the upmost importance. It is a priority. If the fire chief comes to us to talk about a new fire truck, it will be taken seriously. We just don't want to rush into something that only half way meets our needs."
Despite the current issues with the fleet, both Garland and Bellino agree folks in town are safe.
Garland says, "Even if our fire station was completely wiped off the map, there would still be options, we still have mutual aid."
Bellino says, "We are covered, we are safe, we have working vehicles. I am continuing to make sure if there are any issues with the vehicles they go out for repairs. They aren’t in service unless we know they are dependable and in ready shape to go to work at a moment’s notice."
However, to ensure everyone stays safe in the years to come, taxpayers should expect to contribute to new fire trucks in the near future.
Richmond town leaders will vote in July whether to buy a new fire truck.