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East Spencer to make repairs to firetruck, giving department two operable trucks

EAST SPENCER — The East Spencer town board has approved money to repair one of its firetrucks, giving the Fire Department two operable vehicles again.

A month ago, then-Fire Chief Josh Smith told the board that a 2001 HME engine wasn’t working and neither was a 1977 LaFrance that was used as a back-up and as a display at local events. He told the town board that the Fire Department needs two working trucks and has had to reach out to neighboring departments to provide assistance until it resolved the shortage.

The issue, board members and interim Town Administrator F.E. Isenhour said, was there was not enough money in the general fund budget to purchase a new truck. Isenhour told the board the only way to pay for it would be to raise taxes and cut employees, which he did not want to recommend.

In a report to the board, Isenhour commended Smith and his fellow firefighters for working to get information and details about repairs so quickly. Smith and a few other firefighters, including one who maintains the department’s fleet, made an overnight trip to Alabama to visit Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus to look at options for newer trucks.

Current Fire Chief Shawn McBride said the board approved the repairs to the 2001 HME engine through CNC Fire Apparatus of Mount Pleasant.

The board chose to have the truck repaired and then will have the Fire Department work on securing bids or other funds to make further repairs in the next budget year.

Isenhour said the board asked that the request for bids be sent out again to try for a better price and settled on the Mount Pleasant company because it made a lower bid and offered a quicker turnaround for repairs. This company has repaired East Spencer’s trucks before.

Capt. Zach Belgie, who maintains the Fire Department’s fleet, said the truck’s gear box needs to be removed and the drive shaft taken out.

“It needs to be rebuilt from the inside,” Belgie said. “We hope it will three to four days. It will be a quick change for bearings or if they rebuild the system probably two weeks.”

Belgie said other repairs are needed but were not approved.

The cost will range from $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the work that needs to be done. He said the board approved as much as $15,000 for repairs, which will come out of the Fire Department’s current budget.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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