New pumper truck will increase safety for firefighters

After 20 years of service to the town of Wilton, apparatus supervisor and firefighter Ralph Nathanson says it’s time for the town’s oldest pumper truck to retire.

A new pumper truck is one of four capital projects proposed by the Board of Selectmen this year, and it is budgeted to cost around $670,000.

“We’re looking to replace the 20-year-old pumper, “Mr. Nathanson said at the department last Friday. “It has more corrosion because it runs up Route 7 and Route 33 more than the other trucks.”

The purchase of a truck was initially planned for fiscal year 2016, the apparatus supervisor said, but was pushed up a year because the old truck is in need of costly maintenance.

“The reason we are moving this up a year is because the 1994 truck is in need of $30,000 worth of repairs. To put that much money into a truck that is going to be replaced in a year doesn’t make much sense,” Mr. Nathanson said.

No extraordinary events have the department considering a new vehicle. Rather, Mr. Nathanson said, it is simply a matter of time.

“This truck, believe it or not, has the normal corrosion and wear-and-tear you would expect of a 20-year-old truck. You can maintain these things, but there comes a point where you have to say, it’s time,” he said.

Though the actual pumping mechanism contained on a new truck would not be much different from the pumper’s current system, a new truck would be more reliable and much safer for firefighters and the public than the 1994 version.

Included in a new truck would be a bigger, better braking system,  increased rollover protection for passengers, and much more advanced technology to control basic pumping mechanisms, Mr. Nathanson said.

A pumper truck is generally the first apparatus to respond to any emergency, Mr. Nathanson said. It can carry around 1,000 gallons of water, and is manned by a crew of two firefighters.

“It’s the first-response truck, and it can get closest to the actual fire because it has a shorter wheelbase” the firefighter said. “On the other hand, when we need a tanker [which is a larger truck], it has to stay on the street.”