Voters at Wednesday's Special Town Meeting unanimously gave the green light to purchase two new fire trucks for the Fire Department.
Fire Chief Andrew Melnikas spoke to the audience of more than 200 people before the vote, calling on them to approve of his proposal to replace Ladder 1 and Engine 3 with new trucks.
The proposal for the new trucks -- Article 1 -- was the main reason for the Special Town Meeting. Melnikas called for the purchase earlier this fall, noting that Ladder 1 does not have a functioning ladder and Engine 3 needs a new motor.
"The ladder truck for the last few years has been kept in operation almost through a Band-Aid approach," Melnikas said to the crowd. "But that Band-Aid has rotted off."
In the event of a fire requiring a ladder, the town has to call a neighboring community to borrow a ladder truck, which can take several critical minutes away from fighting the fire.
There was concern over the price tag, a staggering $1.3 million for the two trucks. But new trucks, as opposed to just fixing the existing trucks, would save the town money in the long run because interest on the loan to buy new trucks would be low and the town would just have to buy new trucks within a few years anyway, Melnikas said.
"Our job on the Fire Department is to help you, to respond to you when you have an emergency," Melnikas said. "I'm asking for a 'yes' vote to help us to help you."
Melnikas convinced the majority of voters, and the proposal was approved unanimously, without even a single person arguing against it before the vote.
"I think this was the culmination of a lot of hard work, and I appreciate the efforts of all those involved," Melnikas said afterward, smiling ear-to-ear. "Now we can go forward, develop some specifications, then go ahead and put it out to bid."
The process of actually getting the new trucks could take a few months, but Melnikas said he is glad to get things moving.
Winter is the busiest season for firefighters, when people are using alternative heating, such as fireplaces to warm their homes. Last month, a fire broke out at a home on Turnpike Street, and neighboring trucks had to be called in. Luckily, the fire did not require a ladder and it was close to Middleton so the Middleton Fire Department could respond quickly.
Every other article was passed at the Special Town Meeting, with several passing unanimously and other passing with very little opposition.