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Fire Engines Arrive In Tewksbury To Take Their Place In TFD Fleet

Aug 21, 2014 06:22PM ● By Bill Gilman

One of the two fire engines purchased by the Tewksbury Fire Department to add to their fleet. Photo courtesy of Tom Cooke.

There was a big sigh of relief coming from the office of Fire Chief Mike Hazel earlier this week, as two 2008 engines arrived to take their place in the Tewksbury Fire Department fleet.
The engines, which came at a pice of $330,000 each plus shipping costs, were paid for with $700,000 approved by voters at the May Annual Town Meeting. They were bought from an unincorporated fire district in Houston, Tex.
"One of the engines is in use at Central Station now and the other is still being equipped. It will be put in use within the next couple of weeks," said Hazel.
The TFD has been operating two engines down since October, when two of its vehicles failed inspection by the State Department of Transportation. According to Hazel, the problems with the 2002 and 1999 engines were related to corrosion and cracks in the frame rails and damage to attachments for the springs. Repairs would have cost $210-$230,000.
Being down two engines caused a multitude of difficulties for Tewksbury firefighters. The department did have one spare engine but it was plagues by electrical difficulties and was scheduled to be taken off the road in the near future. That timetable got pushed up when the vehicle finally became unusable and was taken off the road in July.
"It's very challenging," said Hazel. "When you don't have confidence in a vehicle that it won't perform when you need it to, that creates a great deal of stress."
To fill the equipment void, the TFD borrowed an engine from Wilmington, ultimately purchasing that vehicle for $12,000. The department has also borrowed engines on a short-term basis from Lowell and Billerica.
With the engine bought from Wilmington and one bought from Houston, Hazel now has the vehicles to fully equip the department's three stations. When the second Houston engine is ready for action, it will be added to the Central Station fleet and the department will once again have one spare engine on hand.
According to Hazel, the three engines that have been taken off the road in the past year are being garaged at the South Tewksbury Station. Ultimately, they will be scrapped of auctioned.

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