By BEA LEWIS
For The Laconia Daily Sun
MEREDITH — A federal grant has helped fund the addition of a new truck to the Meredith Fire Department's fleet.
The 2016 Pierce Arrow XT manufactured in Appleton, Wisconsin, was delivered in late October.
Fire Chief Ken Jones is no stranger to grant writing. When he headed the Livermore Falls, Maine, Fire Department he authored a successful grant for a new truck. When he took over the leadership of the Meredith Department in June 2008, he brought that skill set with him.
He twice drafted and submitted grant applications using statistical data collected by department members, but failed to get an award. The third time proved a charm, however, and the department was awarded a $380,953 Assistance to Firefighters Grant on the pledge that the municipality would match five percent or about $19,000 of the purchase price.
The grant program was launched in the wake of the 9/11 attacks that brought to light that many fire departments lacked the critically-needed resources to equip and train emergency personnel to recognized standards, enhance operations efficiencies, foster interoperability and support community resilience.
Factors that aided in Meredith in scoring high enough to win a grant included the age of its existing fleet, which includes a rescue truck manufactured in 1986, a 1983 engine and a 1988 tanker.
"This one means a lot to me," Chief Jones said, as he touted the many features of the new truck that the department began drafting specifications for in July 2015. To address the shrinking number of volunteer call firefighters facing departments nationwide, Jones decided combining the features of two of the oldest vehicles in the fleet and placing one of them on reserve duty status was the needed solution.
The vehicle brings several new features to the department including a "dump tank" a portable reservoir that Jones explained allows the department to move water at a quicker pace than via the traditional "rural hitch."
The new truck is also equipped with 20 gallons of Class A foam. It can carry 2,500 gallons of water and is fitted with a pump rated at 1,750 gallons per minute, powerful enough to supply the department's tower.
The 10-wheel truck that tips the scales at 70,800 pounds has a six-man cab, is powered by a 525-horse power Detroit diesel engine and will be used as the second engine sent to calls that now average between 380 to 450 a year.
The National Fire Protection Association standard sets the life expectancy of a fire truck at 20 years, but Jones said that given the high cost of replacement, that is unlikely to happen in Meredith. He credits the department's preventative maintenance schedule and call volume with pushing the useful service to their trucks to 25 years.
The new truck will go into service in the next week or two after the department drivers complete logging the required hours behind the wheel and firefighters finish training in its use.
The grant was written and submitted in 2014. It was awarded in Aug. 2015.
The truck was purchased through Minuteman Trucks Inc., of Walpole, Massachusetts, a Pierce dealership.
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