By Chris Maza
LONGMEADOW – Fire Chief Eric Madison and members of the Longmeadow Fire Department conducted a presentation on what capabilities a new quint aerial fire apparatus would offer the community on Feb. 25.
With Select Board Chair Marie Angelides and representatives from Bay Path College and Jewish Geriatric Services (JGS) in attendance, Madison attempted to address some of the questions and concerns he had heard from the community regarding what would be an investment of approximately $730,000.
“This apparatus would improve our service to the town because it would allow us to work as an engine company and a ladder company, improving our capabilities while offering greater safety for our firefighters,” he said.
The Fire Department is hoping the expenditure will be approved at Town Meeting in order to replace a 25-year-old engine currently in service. Town Manager Stephen Crane explained that the town is also hoping that private entities that are serviced by the Fire Department, such as JGS and Bay Path, would be willing to help with some of the cost. He added that the Capital Planning Committee and Select Board had previously supported the purchase.
Longmeadow has been without a ladder truck since 1992, according to Madison. Since then, the town has relied on mutual aid, primarily from East Longmeadow and the Thompsonville, Conn., fire units, and sometimes from Springfield, he said.
The quint would be able to act as a tanker engine, bringing hundreds of gallons of water to a fire scene while also serving as a ladder truck.
The quint would be able to carry 500 gallons of water, the same amount as the town’s standard engines.
When asked by Angelides about the amount of manpower, Madison said the quint could be used with a five-man crew and would allow firefighters to address multiple areas of concern at once.
For example, he said, in areas in which houses are closer together, the department’s primary concern is exposure protection, or preventing the fire from spreading to other dwellings and fighting the actual fire becomes secondary. A quint, he said, would allow firefighters to continue spraying water on other properties while working on putting out the fire simultaneously.
Another one of the most repetitive messages Madison said he has received is that residents are concerned a larger vehicle would not be able to reach some areas due to the narrow streets.
The quint presented, which measures 37 feet long including the ladder overhang, would be able to maneuver as well – if not better – than some vehicles currently within the fleet, he insisted.
“It’s taller, of course, because of the ladder components, but in terms of the size of the apparatus, it’s not all that much different than what we’re currently driving,” Madison said. “I would be willing to bet that with today’s technology, this is more maneuverable.”
Audra Jaconetti, a representative from Greenwood Emergency Vehicles of North Attleboro, the company that produces the apparatus presented, said the quint’s wheel base was 220 inches, just 10 inches longer than Engine 2. She added the quint had a “much more aggressive cramp angle on the front end,” which would make it more maneuverable than Engine 2.
Madison conceded there would be additional maintenance costs because of the extra ladder components, but said for the first several years of operation, there would be no need to budget for those because of the newness of the apparatus. That would save money that would normally be spent with upkeep and maintenance of an older truck, he said.