March 8 -- To the Editor:

The members of the Rye Fire Association & Local 4411 are seeking your support in the replacement of our 31-year-old pumper/ladder. On Tuesday March 12, Rye voters will have the opportunity to cast their ballots on several warrant articles. Article 8 reads:

Article 8: To see if the Town will authorize the Board of Selectmen, as the governing body, to enter into a long-term lease/purchase agreement in the amount of nine hundred, ninety two thousand dollars ($992,000) payable over a term of five (5) years for a new pumper/ladder truck for the Fire Department with the first payment due in 2020 and to raise and appropriate the sum of four hundred ninety two thousand ($492,000) for the down payment on the lease/purchase due in 2019 with one hundred twenty three thousand ($123,000) to come from the Ambulance and Fire Special Revenue Fund and to authorize the withdrawal of three hundred sixty nine thousand ($369,000) from the Fire and Ambulance Vehicle Capital Reserve Fund. This article is in addition to the operating budget. (3/5 vote required)

This article is recommended by the Selectmen (3-0)

This article is recommended by the Budget Committee. (10-1)

If approved this article will allow the Board of Selectman to enter into a 5-year lease purchase agreement in the amount of $500,000, plus interest, and to expend a total of $492,000 from two different fire department capital reserve accounts established for the replacement of fire department vehicles and equipment.

The current pumper/ladder has served the community for the past 31 years and has been on the radar for replacement since 2006. It was manufactured in 1988 by two companies Simon Duplex and LTI Aerial Ladders. These two companies have both been out of business for over 10 years now making service and repairs difficult to come by. Parts are very limited with many needing to be customized, because of this vehicle repairs and out of service times have increased.

Currently the aerial ladder is out of service due to a main hydraulic raise piston that has failed and leaks hydraulic fluid. This is an issue we've had repaired in the past and required custom parts. Repair estimates received are between $10,000 and $20,000 for this one repair with the vehicle having a total market value of only $5,000.

In addition to the aerial ladders need for repair the vehicle has an unresolved braking issue which causes the truck to pull to either side while braking and the body has significant corrosion concerns. The vehicle lacks basic safety equipment such as ABS brakes, seatbelts, rollover protection, an enclosed rear facing passenger compartment, and was manufactured prior to the implementation of the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) 1901 minimum safety standards for fire apparatus.

The truck has proven itself to be unreliable as our primary fire engine for many years now. We feel this new combination style vehicle (pumper/ladder) would best serve the community as its primary fire truck at building fires because of its suppression, laddering, and rescue abilities. Having minimal on-duty staff the new truck will be a force multiplier, and because residential driveways typically only have enough room to accommodate one piece of fire apparatus it will allow us to perform multiple functions, with one truck, and in those limited space areas. With many homes being on elevated foundations, or having living space on third, and fourth floors, which is also affected by the ground topography, we feel strongly our need to have an aerial ladder in Rye is continuing to grow. Today our first arriving fire engine carries limited ground ladders capable of reaching traditional second floor windows. Larger fire service ground ladders exceed our first arriving staffs’ abilities in most cases and typically are carried on ladder trucks due to space restrictions. An aerial ladder can be operated by one firefighter and is commonly used more for its reach than its height. The new truck will allow for safer rescue of fire victims, add operational efficiencies during firefighting, carry larger ground ladders, have safety features the current truck doesn’t, and include many technological advancements. We anticipate a new truck would last Rye for the next 25 years.

Lastly, we would like to thank the many residents, Board of Selectman, Budget Committee, and Capital Improvements Committee members for their support on this article and ask for voters’ support on March 12, 2019.

Submitted by Mark Wunderly on behalf of The members of the Rye Fire Association & Local 4411