Five months after the Leyden Firefighters Association purchased a 1983 diesel engine, the Leyden Selectboard announced it has no plans to put the truck in service.
Instead, the Selectboard said it is having the town’s 40-year-old Engine 1 repaired by Dan Galvis, who runs an automotive repair shop. The primary problem with Engine 1 is a leaking pump, which the Selectboard expects to repair for between $3,500 and $4,000.
Leyden Selectboard Chairman Jeffrey Neipp said Galvis already has the pump removed and disassembled, having received the truck at his shop in mid-December. Neipp expects the truck will be back in service by the end of January, depending on the availability of parts.
“We need to get it fixed, that’s all there is to it,” said Leyden Fire Chief and Leyden Firefighters Association President Clifford Spatcher. With Engine 1 out of service, Leyden firefighters would need to respond to a fire with a tanker instead.
As for the recently purchased engine, Neipp said the Selectboard currently has no plans to put it in service, unless the association’s board of directors can present the Selectboard with a substantial argument for its use. Spatcher said the association — a recognized nonprofit that raises money to support the Leyden Volunteer Fire Department — will discuss its plans for the engine during its next meeting on Feb. 7, and return to the Selectboard with a response in late February or early March.
The association purchased the newer engine on Craigslist back in August with $3,900 of its own money, believing it would better fit the needs of the department. The 1983 engine would hold more firefighters, more equipment and more water than Engine 1. Spatcher said previously that the association intended to give the newer engine to the town.
Communication an issue
However, the association’s lack of communication with the Selectboard prior to the purchase quickly became a point of contention, which continued to be discussed during Thursday’s meeting.
“There’s just no communication,” said Selectman William Glabach. “I think it’s becoming a serious problem now.”
“It seems like the association is running the Fire Department and I don’t know where the chief is,” Neipp said to Spatcher during the meeting.
Neipp told Spatcher the association shouldn’t make any further purchases without prior approval from the Selectboard.
“No one here’s dissatisfied with the firefighters,” Neipp noted. “We do hear from town residents who respond and say, ‘They did a good job.’ But we think a little better communication could improve the fire services.”
In particular, the Selectboard was concerned the newer engine wouldn’t be able to navigate many of the town’s roads, nor its 27 hills, given that it is a two-wheel-drive vehicle, whereas Engine 1 is four-wheel-drive.
“I don’t think we’re ready to get rid of that truck yet,” Neipp said of Engine 1. “A lot of thought went into purchasing it.”
The Selectboard said the money needed to fix the pump would come from the Fire Department’s maintenance account, and any further repairs — such as perhaps making the engine fuel-injected — would need to wait until next fiscal year.