Selectmen OK purchase of new Wilton fire truck

The Board of Selectmen approved the purchase of a Marion Body Works fire truck on Monday, May 20, but it will take about a year to get here.

The price tag of $663,000 leaves the Fire Department $30,000 under the initial budget for the tanker engine. This, Assistant Fire Chief Mark Amatrudo said, will allow the department to use leftover funds to purchase “radios, and other equipment” needed to properly equip the engine.

Mr. Amatrudo was first tasked with the selection of a new truck to replace Wilton Engine 4, a tanker-engine that carries 2,500 gallons of water, in October 2011. He and a  committee of five Wilton firefighters looked into vehicles from the five top manufacturers in the United States.

He and the committee “took several months to compile a list of 250 detailed specifications” for the new truck, he said. They compiled these specifications by looking at the shortcomings of the existing tanker, discussing the department’s needs, and inspecting trucks recently purchased by surrounding towns.

First Selectman Bill Brennan and the rest of the board praised the Fire Department for its thoroughness in analyzing its needs, and for including department members in the decision-making process.

All in all, Mr. Amatrudo and his committee requested bids from the top five manufacturers in the United States, and fire truck companies KME, Marion, and Emergency One chose to submit bids for the Wilton project. Pierce, the engine company from which Wilton purchased its last three engines, chose not to submit a bid.

Emergency One’s bid, Mr. Amatrudo said, was quickly declined because it would have put the project slightly over its budget of $695,000.

The special commission compared the final two bids with KME’s plan receiving a score of 68 out of 100, and Marion’s plan receiving a score of 85 out of 100, Mr. Amatrudo said.

“In the end,” he said, “our committee unanimously decided on the Marion apparatus.” Fire Chief Paul Milositz and Mr. Amatrudo both agreed with their decision.

The committee chose the Marion truck, Mr. Amatrudo said, because it meets all of the department’s specifications. These include up-to-date passenger safety features, a cul-de-sac navigable turn radius, a small pump design, a cleaner burning engine, and advanced integrated electronics.

“Marion did a better job of understanding our project, designing what we wanted, and then calculating the costs of what we were looking for,” he said.

He also stressed Marion’s commitment to perform in-house repair.

“The Marion representative owns their facility, and also made a commitment to us that they will do whatever service, warranty, and repair work as is possible, in our building, which should reduce our downtime.”