PLAISTOW— When the town decided to retire Rescue 6, a non-transporting fire rescue truck, it knew others would want it. But instead of looking for the highest bidder, the town decided to take a more unusual approach.
The Fire Department will donate the truck to the Brownfield, Maine, Fire Department, whose rescue truck was damaged a few weeks ago.
“I’m really in awe that they decided to do this for us,” said Brownfield Fire Chief Richard Perreault. “We were desperate.”
Perreault said its old rescue truck started leaking oil and antifreeze when responding to a car accident last month, damaging the engine.
“We had to replace it or rebuild it,” he said. “It carries our cascade (breathing air) system, our extrication equipment. It would have cost us over $10,000.”
Perreault said the truck serves Brownfield, a town with a population of 1,500 and other surrounding towns. Brownfield is about an hour east of North Conway.
While the truck was out of commission, the department would have had to load equipment into a privately owned pickup truck when an emergency call was received.
But fortunately for Perreault, Plaistow Fire Chief John McArdle came to the rescue.
“We put it out for bid, but the intrinsic value of the truck is far greater than what we were offered for it,” he said. “We could have received some more money for it, but the town of Brownfield could use this for the next 10 years.”
The town received eight bids for the truck, with the highest around $4,000. The truck has been out of service since February, when the department combined its function with another engine which is now being used in reserve. The truck had been used in Plaistow since 1993.
“It was due to be cycled out,” McArdle said.
McArdle said he was pleased that the truck would be used as it was in Plaistow.
“Someone could modify it to use it for something else or scrapped it,” McArdle said. “But I still think it has good value for what it is designed for.”
McArdle presented the proposal to the Board of Selectmen on August 5, and they unanimously decided to donate the truck to Brownfield.
“I like to think that Plaistow can play a role in ensuring public safety in other communities,” Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said. “It would reflect terrifically on the Plaistow Fire Department.”
The only stipulation is that the truck be used for public safety for five years.
This isn’t the first time Plaistow has donated fire equipment to other towns. In 2004, the town donated hydraulic tools to Errol in northern New Hampshire.
“We couldn’t use them here,” he said. “If we can help them out, it’s much better.”
Yesterday, Perreault drove two hours to Plaistow to pick up the truck. Perreault inspected the truck, swapped the New Hampshire plates for Maine ones and was gone.
“I’m just speechless about it,” he said. “We are so relieved they are doing this for us.”