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Fire Department Requests New Fire Engine

The Scarborough Fire Department submitted a request in the FY2025 budget to fund the purchase of a new pumper, commonly referred to as a fire engine, or engine company.

What is a fire engine, and what does it do?

The fire engine is the backbone of any Fire Department, and is used to accomplish multiple missions.  Fire engines are equipped with a fire pump to build water pressure, an on-board water tank to initiate attacking a fire, and two general types of fire hose; attack hose has a nozzle attached and is deployed from the fire engine to the fire, at which point water, under pressure built from the fire pump, is applied to extinguish the fire. Supply hose is used to bring water from a sustainable source, such as a hydrant or cistern, to the fire engine in order to ensure ongoing capacity to supply fire attack efforts.  Fire engines also carry a complement of portable ladders to reach trapped occupants above the first floor of a building, and various tools utilized in firefighting operations. 

In Scarborough, our fire engines also carry a complement of emergency medical equipment – due to the large size of our town, fire engines often arrive at medical calls from one of our neighborhood fire stations before one of our two staffed ambulances, and engine crews initiate patient care. 

Why do we need a new fire engine?

The Scarborough Fire Department has utilized and regularly revised a strategic apparatus replacement plan for more than eighty years.  This plan provides a data-driven, fiscally and operationally responsible framework for the composition, operational deployment, maintenance, and replacement of our fleet.  This plan is regularly reviewed and incorporates industry best practices, tracking trends of call volume, and input regarding maintenance from our partners at Scarborough Public Works.

The Scarborough Fire Department’s replacement schedule historically considers vehicle use, age, and the associated amount and costs of maintenance.  A new challenge that we have had to measure and factor in is that the Fire Service, like nearly every other part of our lives, has been, and continues to be impacted by supply chain and service challenges that have arisen over the past few years.  The wait times for a new fire engine to be built and delivered now range between 24 and 48 months and are not projected to decrease in the near future.  In the interest of being good stewards both fiscally and operationally, we are asking our residents to plan and act now with us as we continue to design and source fire apparatus that will effectively protect our community, and the Firefighters utilizing it – for years to come.

How would a new fire engine benefit Scarborough?

Supporting the purchase of a new fire engine will yield a number of benefits for our residents. Below are a few:

· Fiscal impact: With the cost of fire apparatus continuing to rise, securing a new fire engine now will save Scarborough residents tens of thousands of dollars in purchase price.  As an older fire engine is cycled out of service, savings in maintenance costs will be immediately realized, and the resale value of the fire engine being replaced will be higher.

· Operational impact: As the Town of Scarborough continues to grow and evolve, the fleet of fire apparatus that protect it must do the same.  Our newest fire engines reflect an updated design that greatly decreases overall length, making them much more maneuverable, particularly in narrow streets and neighborhoods, and they are much more able to obtain effective positions at emergency incidents.  The continuing standardization of our fire engines also empowers our Firefighters to be able to quickly locate equipment, and to be familiar with how to operate multiple vehicles due to their similarities.

· Safety: Much like personal vehicles, fire apparatus design constantly incorporates new safety features for the personnel riding on board, as well as anyone who may be around the vehicle while it is in motion.  Beyond this new technology, our new fire engines reflect changes in physical layout that significantly reduce the potential for injuries – lower hose beds – the compartments where fire hose is stored on the apparatus – are proven to reduce the number and severity of back injuries.  Reduced height of fire engines also places all other equipment at lower levels, making it more accessible and less likely to contribute to an injury when accessing it.  Placing the controls for the fire pump on the side of the vehicle instead of a platform on the body of the vehicle – greatly reduce the risk of slips and falls, another leading cause of line of duty injuries in the Fire Service. 

The request to fund the purchase of a new fire engine has been carefully considered and reflects the Scarborough Fire Department’s continued commitment to protecting our community, providing the safest equipment possible for our Firefighters, and to being responsible stewards of the resources provided to us by the residents we serve.

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