Deerfield selectmen and firefighters show off the department's newest fire engine, which cost roughly $500,000 and 18 months to build. (BENJAMIN KLEIN PHOTO)
DEERFIELD — After 18 months of waiting and more than $400,000, the Deerfield Fire Department took possession of a new custom fire engine that is expected to remain in service for 30 years.
Fire Chief Mark Tibbits said he is ecstatic to get the new engine, which was built by Valley Fire Equipment in Bradford. He said not only will it make the town safer but also help keep insurance costs down.
"This engine should last upwards of 30 years. It has a poly body, which means it will never rust. For how much these things cost, they need to last a long time," Tibbits said.
Approved through a series of warrant articles, the $434,000 engine has been under construction at Valley since May 2012.
The town officially delivered the engine to the fire department during an event on Tuesday night at the town offices, complete with demonstrations and food.
"I thought we should make a big deal about this, to show the taxpayers where their money went, because we don't do this every day. The Board of Selectmen wanted to make it clear that the town paid for this, that this is their piece of equipment," said Steve Barry, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
A demonstration of the engine's water pump, which sent water several hundred feet in the air, was a hit with kids, who ran through the cascading water on the field adjacent to the town offices.
"We weren't planning on testing the water pump until Friday," Tibbits said. "But we couldn't help ourselves."
The engine is able to carry five firefighters, 1,000 gallons of water and equipment.
"It will be a multi-purpose engine. It will do everything and be the first or second engine to respond to incidents," Tibbits said.
Barry said that through initial investments of $180,000 authorized by the town, the engine would be paid off in five years.
"That is important, because we will probably have to get a new tanker in a couple years," Barry said.
"This has been a long, hard process that took longer than we thought it would, but I am 100 percent impressed," he said. "It cost $434,000, but it is well worth every dime spent on it."
Not everyone at the unveiling was as happy as selectmen and firefighters.
Resident Katherine Alexander said the cost of the new engine is a concern.
"I understand that Deerfield needed it, but at the same time this town is becoming too expensive for many people to live. There needs to be a balance between getting equipment we need and keeping taxes affordable," Alexander said. "But the truck is spiffy."