For volunteer fire department, new ladder ‘quint’ essential

For volunteer fire department, new ladder ‘quint’ essential

North Scituate Volunteer Fire Department Vice President Dennis Charland has been with the station for 43 years. He said the department is successful in getting FEMA grants for equipment, but is seeking the town’s help for the essential quint fire truck and ladder.

SCITUATE – A house fire can double in size each minute, which North Scituate Volunteer Fire Department Vice President Dennis Charland said is the reason why having the right equipment is essential.

Charland said the upcoming Financial Town Meeting on Oct. 15 includes a request for a $1 million bond to purchase a new quintuple, or quint. He said the ladder is critical for the safety of the town and its volunteer firefighters, and will replace one that has been forced off the road.

The FTM will be held at the Scituate High School Auditorium, 94 Trimtown Road, at 7 p.m.

Charland said that common practice during a house fire is to cut a hole in the roof to release the buildup of heat accumulating in an attic. Without a quint, the fire department will put up ladders to reach the roof, with another extended onto the roof for access and to create a hole.

“All of these steps take a lot of time and manpower. As a volunteer fire department, you never know how many people you’re going to have responding to a call,” Charland said.

With a quint, one person can elevate the ladder, put it up on the roof, and then take a saw or ax and cut a hole in the roof, Charland said.

“The savings in time could mean savings in life but also in money in having the house burned,” he said.

For too long, Charland said volunteer firefighters made do with an outdated quint fire apparatus, or a fire truck that serves as a ladder, water tank, fire hose, aerial device and ground ladder.

He said the quint is more than 25 years old and was purchased after it was used as a manufacturer’s demo.

“It was driven all over the country before we picked it up,” Charland said.

He said the trouble started in 2013 when it had a hydraulic leak and an electrical leak that caused the truck to catch fire. It took thousands of dollars and five months to get the truck back in working order.

“It was a lot of insurance money to get that back in shape,” Charland said.

North Scituate’s quint will not pass inspection with the United States Department of Transportation due to multiple hydraulic leaks, corrosion in the ladder rungs, and other issues.

“It’s to the point of how much money do you throw into the thing until it’s not worth it,” Charland said.

He said homeowner insurance companies like to see that a town has a quint truck at the department, and having one positively impacts the town’s insurance rating. He said the cost estimate per resident to pay for the $1 million truck is around $2 per person per year for 20 years.

Charland, who owns an insurance company, said the insurance benefits here might mean the truck proves to be a net-zero for taxpayers. “That’s the goal,” he said.

Charland explained that though the North Scituate Fire Department is hugely successful in getting Federal Emergency Management Agency grant funding, he said it is highly unlikely that the department will be awarded an apparatus.

He said FEMA awards $3 million in grants for fire apparatuses each year, or enough for about 300 vehicles. Though FEMA prioritized quints in a rural setting as a high priority, he said the department will need to rely on the town for this truck.

Earlier this month, the department won a $38,095 Assistance to Firefighters Grant from FEMA to purchase a power stretcher that will lift patients into rescue vehicles.

The grant will put the North Scituate Fire Department at more than $1.4 million in grants over the last 25 years, according to Charland.

“That’s an average of $56,000 a year,” he said.

He said the department’s success is due to the Fire Chief Adam Hebert and his staff’s record keeping.

He said grants often have a turnaround of 30 days and a good record quickens the process.

The North Scituate Fire Department quint truck’s ladder can reach the roof of a burning building to slow fire down, saving time and possibly the building. The department’s current quint can no longer be used, and the town is seeking $1 million to purchase a new one.