MBTS Town Officials Playing With Fire - Part 2


To The Editor,

The following is Part 2 of a letter I sent to Town Officials on February 16 regarding the insufficient staffing levels of the Manchester Fire Department.  Part 2 of the letter addresses the lack of fully operational front-line fire trucks.

February 16, 2023

Subject: Fire Department Staffing and Resources

Dear Select Board, Town Administrator and Finance Committee,

Regarding lack of operational fire truck availability, when Chief Paskalis retired the town had one 100-foot Ladder truck-quint (L-1), two full-size, front-line pumper trucks (E-1 & E-4), one four-wheel drive mini-pumper (E-3), one ambulance (A-1), and pick-up truck (Unit 1).  Since that time there has been some limited fire apparatus purchases and some very curious decisions made regarding apparatus.

Today, the Town has one 2001 100-foot ladder truck-quint that was a demo (not custom ordered). It has been out of service since September because it cannot pass the emissions inspection.  The truck is at the end of its useful 15-20-year life and should be replaced immediately for the safety of the firefighters and residents.  A mutual aid Ladder truck is at least 20+ minutes away (if available) after factoring dispatch and travel time.  With so many large, multi-storey homes in Manchester, I am certain residents would be shocked at this situation.

The Town also has one stock (not custom ordered) 2011 full size, front-line pumper truck (E-1) that was obtained with a federal grant of $337,000 and the Town contributed only $17,000 towards the purchase.  Unfortunately, no new equipment was purchased at that time due to lack of funding, and the 30-year-old equipment from the old E-1 was transferred to the new E-1.

This truck is currently out of service as the pump was damaged operating in sub-zero temperatures while at a recent house fire in Essex.  The Town has not had a second full-size, front-line pumper truck since about 2018-19.

Chief Rogers purchased a used 1998 full-size pumper truck (E-2) to replace the old E-4 during his tenure.  The truck came from a fire department in Michigan.  The truck had a poor maintenance history before being purchased.  The Town purchased the used truck versus buying a new truck most likely due to budget pressure.  The truck was not in service for very long.

Chief Rogers also dismantled E-3 and converted it to a make-shift Forestry truck.  The truck was not in service very long after the conversion.

Chief Kramlinger replaced the used pumper truck (E-2) with a 2018 mini-pumper (Squad 3) during his tenure.  Squad 3 has many disadvantages because it is so small it cannot carry a lot of hose and equipment.  The water tank is small and holds only 300 gallons.  The Town purchased the mini-pumper most likely due to budget pressure and the higher cost of a new full-size, front-line pumper truck.

The Town has a 2019 Ambulance (A-1) that provides ALS service.

The Town also has 2011 Ambulance (A-2) that has been out of service for a very long time due to engine issues.  The engine model is no longer available.  The Ambulance was stripped of all equipment/radios and auctioned.  However, nobody wanted it.  I believe the Town is having A-2 re-evaluated for a new, alternate engine replacement. In my opinion, it would be prudent to buy a new, second ambulance versus upgrading a 12-year-old Ambulance with a new engine, all new equipment, and new radios.

A Chief’s car (C-1) and a 2021 pick-up truck (Utility 4) with a drop-in skid unit for forestry application were also purchased in the last few years.

I don’t know how much money is in the “fire truck replacement fund” or whether the annual funding was stopped, reduced, or used for other non-fire purposes.  The Town should be putting adequate funds away each year knowing that a ladder truck has a 15-20-year useful life, and a front-line pumper truck has a 10-15-year useful life.  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that if a ladder truck is greater than 15 years old and in serviceable condition, it should be placed into reserve.  NFPA recommends that front-line pumper trucks should be replaced at 10 years and then put into reserve until their 15th year.

The Town’s fire truck situation requires immediate attention, adequate funding and upgrading. We need a new ladder truck immediately.  In my opinion we should also have a second full-size, front-line pumper truck and a new back-up ambulance.  Lack of funding the Fire Truck Replacement fund is poor planning and has resulted in a decline of adequate front-line fire department resources.  For the last 10 years, I feel like I am witnessing the deliberate dismantling of the fire department.

Look at the superior fire truck fleets in other small towns such as Essex, Wenham, Hamilton, and Rockport.

I have a vested interest in the Town.  I have lived in Manchester all my life; my children and grandchildren live in Town.  I own four properties in Manchester and currently pay $38,133 in property taxes.  I expect a fully staffed and fully equipped Fire department to protect my family and property and those of all Manchester residents, businesses, and visitors to our Town. 

I look forward to your response to my concerns and would be glad to discuss the points listed above with you at your convenience.


Bob McDiarmid


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