In the fall of 2013, RFD Ladder 1 was condemned from service due to a structural defect. It was simply unsafe to climb.
So what? Doesn’t Rowley have a 35 foot height limitation?
Aerial ladder trucks are not only about height. They are also designed for reach. A modern aerial ladder allows safer access to second- and third-floor windows, easy access to roofs, and the ability to reach most chimneys in town. It also carries an assortment of portable ladders, tools, and equipment which is not carried on regular fire engines.
Why don’t we just fix the old one?
Repairing the current Ladder 1 is not cost effective. If parts can be obtained, which is not definite, the cost to install them is excessive. After the repair the town would still be left with a 29 year old truck. Another expensive failure could happen at any time.
What about another used truck?
In the past, used trucks have been a 7-10 year solution for the town. Ladder trucks have grown larger in recent years; if another suitable truck could be located it would be similar in age to the current Ladder 1. A new truck is projected to last 20 years.
For years the RFD has told us a new ladder truck wouldn’t fit in the current station. What has changed?
Simply put, manufacturers have noticed that there is a market for compact ladder trucks. Rowley’s position is not unique. E-One of Ocala, FL, the builder of Rowley’s current Engine 1 & Engine 3, has introduced a model which will fit in the station with minor renovations. The Fire Association has agreed to offset the cost of the necessary modifications.
So what will it cost?
Article 22 at Town Meeting and Question 3 at Town Election would authorize the town to borrow up to $735,000 to purchase a new ladder truck for the RFD. The average house would be taxed $73 in the first year, gradually decreasing to $64 in year 5. The cost of a single night out for a family of 4 could solve Rowley’s ladder truck issue for the next two decades.
It is also worth noting that the last bond issued for the purchase of Engine 1 expires this year. Part of the cost of a YES ON 3 vote would be offset by what taxpayers were already paying for that bond.
What if it doesn’t pass?
Rowley placed its first aerial ladder truck in service 41 years ago, back when the RFD was staffed entirely by volunteers and ran 1/10 of the calls we do today. The loss of Ladder 1 now would reduce the RFD’s rescue capability to pre-1973 levels.
The Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee both support this purchase.
PLEASE VOTE YES ON ARTICLE 22 AND QUESTION 3.