Athol Fire Department receives new pumper truck

Athol Fire Department Capt. Jamal Hamilton (left) and Chief Joseph Guarnera alongside the new $825,000 Toyne pumper that recently joined the department's fleet.

Athol Fire Department Capt. Jamal Hamilton (left) and Chief Joseph Guarnera alongside the new $825,000 Toyne pumper that recently joined the department's fleet. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

Athol's Fire Department recently received a new $825,000 Toyne pumper. The purchase was funded through a combination of a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion and a USDA grant.

Athol's Fire Department recently received a new $825,000 Toyne pumper. The purchase was funded through a combination of a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion and a USDA grant. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

By GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 05-13-2024 5:00 PM

ATHOL – The Fire Department has taken receipt of a new $825,000 pumper, the purchase of which was approved when voters last year passed a Proposition 2 ½ debt exclusion.

According to Fire Chief Joseph Guarnera, the new pumper replaces a 26-year-old truck and was manufactured by Toyne Fire Apparatus of Breda, Iowa.

“It contains battery-powered extrication tools, cribbing, power tools, hoses, a multitude of different hose adapters,” said the chief. “It was designed by our apparatus committee, so it was custom designed to purposely store the equipment we have.”

Guarnera said the new pumper was designed to respond to structural fires, motor vehicle accidents, motor vehicle accidents with entrapment, rollovers, and ice and water rescues.

“The cost was $825,000, which was funded through a capital debt exclusion,” Guarnera said. “But Town Manager Shaun Suhoski was able to obtain a USDA Emergency Rural Healthcare Grant which provided $436,974 for the purchase. So the actual cost to the taxpayers was $388,026. The remainder of the equipment and radios that needed to be purchased were purchased through a monetary donation from someone in the community.”

Guarnera said the individual who donated the funds for the purchase of items needed to fully equip the new pumper wished to remain anonymous.

The new truck gives the Athol Fire Department two front-line pumpers, “and the backup reserve pump will be a 2012 KME pumper,” said Guarnera. “So, as far as fire pumpers, we’re in pretty good shape. It’s a great thing.”

Suhoski said Athol voters will have the final say on what to do with the amount of the debt exclusion that was not needed for the pumper. He said that at a future Town Meeting, voters can rescind that borrowing authority or put it toward another piece of equipment.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Suspect still at large after allegedly striking Warwick police chief with vehicle
PHOTOS: Uniquely Quabbin 25th issue celebration at Athol Library
Athol lands $500,000 grant to assess Cass Toy Factory, York Theater
Athol Water Division receives Public Water System Award
$338K fraud drains town coffers in Orange
Mahar school district tightens belt in wake of town fraud

“The taxpayers in Athol supported the debt exclusion needs as presented,” said Suhoski, “and we always say we try to turn over every stone to see how we can leverage those funds. This is just an example of us keeping up our end of the bargain.”

Suhoski said that the USDA grant also provided $400,000 of the approximately $725,00 needed for the purchase of two new ambulances for Athol. Money to fund the town’s share of the ambulances came from the ambulance stabilization fund.

“The first ambulance was on the road at the beginning of this year, the second one is on order,” he said.

As for the rest of the fire department’s vehicles, Guarnera said that a new brush truck, purchased through a grant this year, is expected soon. This vehicle will replace a 56-year-old bush truck. The department is also looking to replace an 18-year-old ladder truck down the road.

“That may seem pretty new, but it’s costing thousands upon thousands of dollars to keep that thing going,” said Guarnera. “Repairing the engine, the equipment, everything is costing us a big chunk of our budget. It’s continually out of service, and that does not allow us to respond first with a ladder truck. We’re depending on other departments to bring their ladder truck if we need it. The amount of money it costs to keep that thing going is outrageous.”

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.