Published Date Written by Gail OberGILFORD — Fire Chief Steve Carrier said yesterday that his department's primary attack vehicle, Engine 2 likely needs a new transmission and will be out of service until it is repaired.
With both of its attack trucks still down, Carrier's department is using Laconia's Engine 1 — a 1998, for its front line vehicle, with Gilford Engine 1 (pumper/hose truck) and Gilford Tanker 1 in support roles.
When asked if he could use Gilford Engine 1 and Tanker 1 in tandem, without Laconia's engine being housed in Gilford, Carrier said "it's possible" but the advantage to having an attacking engine is that is has room for more than two people in the cab and 1,000 gallons of water — as opposed to 500 in Engine 1.
"Eighty percent of Gilford has rural water sources so we need the water," he said.
On Friday morning, Carrier had been told that Engine 2 would be able to return to service over the weekend but he said when Repair Service of New England went to take it for a test drive, there were multiple diagnostics codes displayed suggesting problems and the vehicle wouldn't go into any forward gears.
When Engine 2 failed on January 25, Carrier had it towed by a professional towing company from the fire house to RSNE, located off Lake Shore Road. During the approximate 2-mile trip, Engine 2 was pulled, by a strap, behind a wrecker, with all of the engine's wheels on the ground. The engine was manned for steering and braking purposes.
In a letter to the editor, Budget Committee member Kevin Leandro has charged that Carrier "authorized the wrecker operator to tow the truck in an illegal manner" and suggested the transmission damage is the result.
N.H. RSA 266:64 governs equipment needed for towing and says: "Except for duly registered wrecking vehicles and transporters or motor vehicles towing with a chain or cable for no more than one mile another motor vehicle which is disabled and unable to proceed under its own power, no motor vehicle shall be used to tow another motor vehicle upon any way unless the 2 vehicles shall be connected by a tow bar of sufficient strength to control the movement of the vehicle being towed without manual steering of said towed vehicle."
Carrier said yesterday the fire department used a "duly registered wrecking vehicle" and he authorized nothing illegal.
He also said that the damage done to the undercarriage and brake lines by the towing company, when the drive shaft engaged while the tow was underway, will be paid for by Rusty's Towing and RSNE will directly bill them.
He also said RSNE told him the estimate for the replacement transmission for Engine 2 is about $6,000 before labor but that the transmission supplier will be billing the town directly for the cost of the transmission so there will be no mark-up.
When asked if he thought the transmission was damaged further during the tow, Carrier said he didn't think it was. "It was doing the same thing before we had it towed," he said.
He said Engine 2 could be back in service by the end of the week.
In a update on Engine 4, the departments back-up attack vehicle, Carrier said late last week the mechanic from Lakes Region Fire Apparatus in Tamworth said the pump repairs are going well and are ahead of schedule. Carrier said they hope to be test driving it within a week or so.