NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 11, 2014

Town officials urge voters to fund new ladder truck

SEABROOK — During the years he served as Seabrook’s fire chief, Jeff Brown said he’d never ask taxpayers to foot the bill for a new ladder truck, even though he believed one was needed.

But that just changed.

Retired now, Brown broke his promise at the recent Deliberative Town Meeting Session. He rose, as did former fire Chief Keith Sanborn, to make a case for Article 14 on this year’s warrant, which asks for the first of five $175,000 payments over the coming years that will buy Seabrook an $875,000, 5-year lease/purchase on a new 100-foot platform ladder truck.

The two former chiefs joined current fire Chief Everett Strangman, Deputy Chief Koko Perkins and Selectmen Aboul Khan, Ed Hess and Ray Smith in their pleas for voters to approve the article at the polls on March 11.

The money, they said, was needed to buy what they feel is vital emergency equipment that will keep Seabrook residents and property safe.

The department has a 1993, 75-foot Quint ladder truck, Strangman and Perkins said. But the Insurance Service Organization that determines the town’s fire insurance rating disregards trucks that are more than 15 years old, Strangman said. If the Quint doesn’t count as a viable firefighting piece of equipment with the ISO, the town’s rating could suffer, he said, resulting in residents and businesses possibly paying more on annual fire insurance premiums.

And if the town doesn’t act soon, Perkins added, the 21-year-old Quint won’t be worth much on the trade-in market to offset the cost of the new ladder.

According to Brown, Seabrook needs a ladder truck because the town continues to attract and approve huge commercial developments, like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Kohl’s and the new half-million-square-foot shopping center currently under construction and set to open this spring that will include a nearly 200,000-square-foot Super Walmart.

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