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Santa's got a new sleigh - GFD - 11/28/2008


Santa's got a new sleigh; Department takes delivery of new fire truck just in the 'Nick' of time

GOSHEN - The Goshen Fire Department (GFD) took delivery of a 2008 Darley engine on Thursday, November 21st.  Designated Engine 2, it will replace two vehicles - a 1960 American LaFrance engine and a 1980 GMC tanker.

GFD 56-E2 2008 Darley CAFS Pumper

At a cost of $443,575, it is easily the largest purchase the department has made in its 68-year history.  The Town purchased Engine 1 in 1985 for $100,000 ($85,000 for the truck, $15,000 for equipment).  Now it will serve as a back up to Engine 2.  The 1960 American LaFrance, which was designated as Engine 4, cost the town $18,000 with an additional $1,000 of equipment purchased by the Goshen Firefighters Association.  The Town’s first fire truck, a used 1937 Dodge, was purchased in 1949 at a cost of $3,000.


The truck will bring peace of mind and helps the department fulfill its mission statement of protecting the people, property, and environment within our community.




The planning for this truck began in 2003 when the GFD convinced the Town that a new truck was needed.  At that time, the Town established a Fire Vehicle Fund that had grown to $198,000 by 2007.  A formal truck committee was established in 2005.  Committee members were Chief Susan Labrie, Deputy Chief Kim Dresser, Deputy Chief Rick Clark, Captain Steve Mollison, Lieutenant Dustin Culver and Firefighter Phil Judd. 


The GFD had been submitting grant applications to replace the two older vehicles.  Having been rejected year after year, the GFD held an informational meeting in advance of the 2007 Annual Town Meeting where an article requesting the purchase of a new fire truck for $390,000 was placed on the warrant.  The article passed.  Those who attended the meeting heard from people like George St. Amand who had lost his Ball Road home and all his possessions in a 1980 fire.  In his opinion, the GFD deserved “the Cadillac” of new engines because of the dedication volunteers on the department showed when trying to help him on that day.


Since approximately half the cost of the new engine had been set aside, it was expected that the remaining portion would have to be obtained through a debt exclusion vote.  Selectmen at the time proposed that the vote for the additional funds be bundled with requests for a new garbage truck, $500,000 for road resurfacing, $125,000 for a new front-end loader for the Highway Department and $120,000 for repairs to a laundry list of items in the Town Hall.  All of these items ultimately failed to garner enough votes to be funded through a debt exclusion vote.




In July 2007, the GFD received a call from the office of Senator Ted Kennedy informing the Department that the grant most recently submitted by Chief Susan M. Labrie for the purchase of a new truck had been awarded.  If the town voted to fund 5% or $16,250, the Department of Homeland Security through the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) grant would fund an additional $308,750 toward the purchase.  Knowing that the cost of materials and inflation were driving up the cost of new fire apparatus, the original grant request was submitted for $429,000.  Fortunately, the funds already set aside in the Fire Vehicle fund would be used to make up the difference.


2007 AFG Grant summary


  • 5,088 grants totaling $494 million were awarded in 2007
  • 701 of those grants were used for vehicle acquisition.
  • The vehicle grant awards ranged from $26,790 in New Richmond IN to $1,276,000 in Hartford CT.
  • 69 of the 701 vehicle grants were greater than $308,750
  • 602 of the 701 vehicle grants were less than $308,750.
  • 91 departments in Massachusetts received $11.6 million or 2.4% of that total.
  • Goshen's vehicle grant of $308,750 was the highest amount awarded to a volunteer department in Massachusetts, 6th highest overall and represented 2.9% of the total for the state.
  • The Pittsfield Fire Department’s vehicle grant of $675,000 represented the largest amount for the state of Massachusetts.
  • 11 Massachusetts departments used their AFG grants for vehicle acquisition



The backbone of any fire department is not only its volunteers, but its equipment.  The new engine is a 2008 Darley Pro-Poly body built on a Spartan Gladiator chassis.  It has a six-person aluminum cab with a 400 HP diesel engine, automatic transmission, 1,500-gpm pump, and a 1,250-gallon water tank with quick dump capabilities.  The biggest advantage of a cab this size is that it allows a full firefighting crew along with their gear to travel to an emergency in a safe and controlled manner using one vehicle.  The crew arrives as one and is ready to go to work as a team - something that has never happened before in this town.


The Pro-Poly body is a one-piece complete water tank and body.  It is made of Polyprene, a specially formulated copolymer sheet stock material.  Polyprene is lighter than steel and aluminum, will not rust, corrode, crack, chip or peel, and is easily repaired if inadvertently damaged.  As a result, the manufacturer provides a lifetime warranty on the tank and body.


The Pro-Poly body is built as a complete unit.  The water tank, foam tank, and compartments are all integral to the body.  The ladders, suction hose, and other equipment are completely stored within the shell of the body and out of the weather.  This makes it safer to load and unload from ground level.  As mentioned above, the body will not corrode, is translucent and white in color which makes it easy to spot items in the compartments.  The compartments are oversized because of the fact that the back wall of the compartment is actually the outside of the water tank.  The compartments can easily be cleaned.  Tools brackets can be attached directly by poly welding to the body.  All of this leads to a lifetime warranty which is much greater than a normal stainless steel or aluminum body.  The body is a separate module so in the future it could be adapted to another chassis should this chassis need replacement.  In case of an accident, the body absorbs the shock and would not be damaged as much its metal counterpart.  It is resilient and bounces or returns to shape if it is bent out of shape.


Engine 2 is equipped with a compressed air foam system (CAFS).  CAFS improves the efficiency of plain water by five to seven times.  It provides a faster means of fire knockdown, offers a rapid reduction in heat, requires less water, and it provides lighter and more manageable hose lines because they are typically half the weight.  CAFS also reduces property damage by using less water and putting out the fire quicker.  Utilizing CAFS lowers pump pressure resulting in fuel savings and reducing physical drain on firefighters. 


Using Class 'A' foam has received much recent support.  Foam is like soap.  It helps water penetrate and do a better job as an extinguishing agent.  Without foam a lot of the water simply runs off and does not extinguish.  Here are additional advantages to using foam:


  • Once the fire is put out it stays out (few rekindles)
  • Firefighters are exposed to a lot less heat and fire
  • Less water is used to extinguish a fire
  • There is much less damage from water and smoke to the building and contents
  • Firefighters and equipment can be back in service sooner after an emergency
  • The knockdown is much quicker and leads to the use of less equipment and personnel
  • Fewer and smaller vehicles can do the same amount of work at a fire scene
  • There is less damage and thus less insurance paid out
  • Quicker extinguishment produces less smoke and fewer toxins
  • There is less danger of collapse of the building due to a reduced amount of loading of water in the building.  Only a quarter to a third of the amount of water is used to extinguish a fire
  • Rural fire departments do not need to carry large amounts of water on trucks to do the same job
  • A firefighter using a compressed air foam system is subject to a lot less stress because the hose lines are much lighter.

It is estimated that the Committee has invested over 1,200 hours into researching and designing a vehicle that would meet both the needs of the Department and Town.  Some of that time was spent researching this emerging technology.  That was accomplished through the reviewing of countless articles and other online materials along with conversations with local and regional departments currently using Class 'A' foam.  In addition, Committee members saw and took part in drills and demonstrations of CAFS.  Locally, fire departments in Chesterfield, Cummington and Worthington also have CAFS equipped apparatus.


Other important safety features include a Rolltec rollover occupant protection system, backup camera with screens in the cab and on the top mount pump panel, telescopic remote controlled light tower, enclosed ladder storage at an ergonomically correct height, roll up compartment doors and driver activated differential lock and On-spot chains.  Another feature is the built in SCBA mounting brackets in the 5 crew seats.  This allows firefighters to put their SCBA backpacks on while on the way to a fire call and be ready to enter a smoke-filled environment immediately upon arrival.  A mobile data terminal (MDT), which is a laptop computer loaded with pre-incident planning data for the Town and surrounding communities, will be provided and installed thanks to a Department of Homeland Security Grant obtained through the Western Mass Fire Chiefs’ Association.




Goshen’s first engine, a 1937 Dodge, was purchased used from the Farrar Company in 1949.




It came equipped with a 500-gallon centrifugal pump, a booster tank, booster hose, one extension and one roof ladder, a pike pole, axe and crowbar, two foam extinguishers, three lengths of suction hose and hood lettering.  In addition, the truck was supplied with 1,000 feet of 2 1/2 “ hose, 200 feet of 1 ½” hose, two 1 ½” shut off nozzles, one 2 ½” shut off nozzle and one wye valve.  The purchase order for the truck was signed by Selectboard members George Barrus, Charles Brooks and Edgar Judd.  It was also signed by Goshen’s first fire chief Thomas Barrus.


The Town’s second engine, a 1960 American LaFrance, had a 300-gallon water tank and was, until recently, the oldest truck in the department’s current fleet.



1960 American LaFrance in front of the GFD Fire Station on Route 9


It was sold to the Berkshire County Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Motor Fire Apparatus in America (SPAAMFAA) over the summer to make room for the new apparatus.  This truck could carry 4 firefighters – 2 inside the cab and 2 in rear facing seats that left occupants exposed to the environment.  The other vehicle being replaced by the new truck is the Department's 1980 GMC tanker.  This vehicle was originally used as a U.S. Navy fuel supply truck and was converted by the GFD in 1995 to be used as a water tanker.


Unlike the problem the department had with its 1985 engine, the 2008 engine easily fits in the current station that was built in 1988.  Firefighters had to remove the light bar on top of the truck cab of the 1985 engine in order for the fire truck to squeeze into the garage bay.




Engine 1 is still in service today and will serve as a backup engine for the 2008 Darley.


Pointing to Firefighter Phil Judd, retired Captain Anthony 'Tommy' Thomas said "I wish I could be his age." referring to the future of the department and the amount of training ahead for its members. 


Engine 2 will greatly enhance firefighter safety as well as response capability and firefighting effectiveness.  It's not just a fire truck but a piece of equipment that will enable the fire department to fight today's fires in a modern way.  The truck will not be placed in service until the department's staff goes through extensive training on the new equipment that will include driver training, pump operation and the utilization of CAFS.  Once completed, the Department plans on holding an Open House where towns people will be invited to stop by and get a tour of the truck.



(Friday, November 28th, 2008)