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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Hoosac Bank Backs State-of-the-Art Fire Truck Purchase

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Stamford, Vt. firefighter Scott Lamore is in the driver's seat of a new 2005 fire truck, while fire department Public Information Officer Leo Ethier and fire department Board of Trustees President Janice Farinon stand by.
Stamford, Vt. - Purchasing a new fire truck is not as simple as buying a new pair of jeans, according to Janice Farinon, president of the Stamford Volunteer Fire Department Board of Trustees.

“You just don’t buy a fire truck off the shelf,” Farinon said during a Dec. 14 interview at the town’s Stebbins Lane firehouse. “You do what’s best for the town and what is the most economical.”

The Best Buy

For the Stamford fire department, the “best buy” turned out to be a big, red, 2005 combination tanker and pumper truck that boasts a Freightliner chassis, a 170 to 280 horsepower Mercedes-Benz diesel-powered engine, and is equipped with a 2,000-gallon capacity water tank that utilizes a vacuum technology and can be filled in about one minute, 40 seconds. Almost any water source, including sources with depths as shallow as six inches, can be used to fill the tank, something that is invaluable to rural fire departments that often lack access to fire hydrants.

The pump can produce 1,000 gallons of water per minute; if necessary, because of the dual tanker/pumper capabilities, the truck could be used as a sole means of extinguishing a blaze, said fire department Public Information Officer Leo Ethier. Ethier is a former town fire chief.

“This truck fills quick and it empties quick,” Ethier said.

“The truck is an attack piece and a support piece,” said town firefighter Scott Lamore.

The $180,000 truck is equipped with an automatic transmission and was assembled by the V Tech Company of Williamstown, Vt.. A camera attached to the truck's rear can be monitored from the cab and provides extra safety.

A 1964 Mack tanker that was rebuilt by firefighters in 1990 was “retired” when the new truck arrived at the firehouse in late October; a 1975 truck is also likely to face retirement because of the new vehicle, Ethier said. Both of the older trucks are equipped with standard-shift transmissions; the 1964 truck was a five-speed, double-clutch machine, said Lamore.

Retiring the older of the two trucks was genuinely necessary, Ethier said.

“The truck was old, it had some safety issues, and it was time to get rid of an antique truck,” he said.


Firefighter Scott Lamore operated an exterior control panel on a new fire truck.
Truck operation training is ongoing.

Ethier said that 10 firefighters are able to run the truck and over the next few months, all firefighters will be taught how to operate the vehicle. The department is comprised of 32 volunteer firefighters and includes six certified emergency medical technicians, 12 state-certified first responders, and 11 firefighters who have completed a 144-hour state sponsored Firefighter One certification program. Women and men serve as town volunteer firefighters.

Community Support from the Hoosac Bank

A major factor in the department’s ability to buy the new truck was the cooperation and support of the Hoosac Bank. The fire department yearly operating budget is at $22,500, and the department’s largest fundraiser generates just over $5,000 yearly, according to information provided by the fire department.

Bank officials approved a low-interest $135,000 loan that was competitive with federal loan rates but held fewer restrictions and required far less paperwork, according to Ethier. Ethier said that bank President and CEO Stephen Crowe approved the loan after one telephone call and the required documentation was completed in one hour’s time. The remaining funds needed for the purchase came from the town, which has set aside revenue for a fire truck purchase in varying amounts on a yearly basis, Ethier said.

In a prepared statement, Ethier termed the loan process “a piece of cake.”

“Call it community service, call it community participation,” Ethier said in the statement. “I just think it’s great that a large financial institution like Hoosac Bank recognizes how important it is to help its’ community, especially in areas of public safety.”

Speaking on Dec. 14, Farinon said that many Northern Berkshire/Southern Vermont families, individuals, and businesses do business with the Hoosac Bank. Bank officials demonstrated a commitment to public safety and to their customers with the loan approval, she said.

“It is wonderful to have local support,” Farinon said.

A committee established to oversee the fire truck purchase investigated options and possibilities, she said.

“The truck committee worked their butts off,” Farinon said.

Crowe said that the bank supports community endeavors on a regular basis.

The bank has made a $10,000 matching donation to the Northern Berkshire Community Action’s recently launched heating assistance campaign, and will have contributed over $220,000 to community organizations by year’s end.

“Hoosac Bank takes its role as a community bank very seriously,” Crowe said in a written statement. “Many of our employees serve as volunteers for non-profits and we have always given generously to charitable organizations. We were more than happy to help the volunteers of the Stamford Fire Department ensure the safety of lives and homes in Stamford and its surrounding communities.”

Stamford firefighters are part of a mutual aid agreement with surrounding communities including Readsboro, Vt. and Clarksburg, Mass.. Paul Ethier is the fire chief.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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