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New Middlebury fire truck is ready to roll

MIDDLEBURY — So a guy down the street gets a sweet new ride, neighbors gather around and toss down a couple of beers while gazing admiringly — no, lovingly — at all that gleaming chrome and tantalizing torque nestled under the popped hood.
That slice of Americana was served up in heaping helpings (albeit without the beers) at the Middlebury Fire Department’s Seymour Street headquarters on Tuesday, when town officials got their first glimpse of the new, $866,471 ladder truck that is planned to headline the community’s fleet for at least the next 25 years.
“A thing of beauty,” Middlebury selectboard Chairman Brian Carpenter said of the new rig, endowed with a 111-foot-long aerial ladder that’ll reach the peak of virtually every structure the town’s dedicated firefighters could be called upon to safeguard.
Fire Chief Dave Shaw and Assistant Chief Myron Selleck were all grins as they led a tour of the department’s new machine, equipped with all the bells, whistles and 21st-century technology one could imagine.
Here are some of the truck’s vital statistics: It weighs 71,000 pounds and is more than 40 feet long. It’s equipped with outriggers to provide stability when the ladder is extended. Its electronic brain makes sure the ladder will not accidentally strike any obstructions while being swiveled. It’s adorned with “scene lighting” to make sure it — and the fire location — can be well lit if the incident to which firefighters respond is not near any streetlights.
THE MIDDLEBURY FIRE Department unveiled its new $860,000 ladder truck to town officials Tuesday night. Independent photo/Trent Campbell
There’s no wasted space on the truck, an HME Ahrens-Fox Model HAF111L. The aerial ladder is mounted on a Spectr chassis, also built by the Michigan-based HME company.
“Middlebury Ladder 1” offers a six-person custom cab with a stainless-steel body and is powered by a Cummins ISX-15 600-horsepower motor and an Allison 4000EVS transmission. It’s equipped with an Onan 8,000-watt hydraulic generator and a Ramsay 90000 winch with receivers mounted on all four sides of the truck.
Playing the part of James Bond gadget guru “Q,” Selleck revealed a series of storage compartments secreted on the truck’s exterior. The compartments contain axes and a variety of other tools essential to the firefighters’ tireless job of public safety.
It’s a vehicle that firefighters hope to use infrequently, but it will provide department officials — and Middlebury residents — a sense of security, knowing it’s there if needed.
The new apparatus replaces the department’s 1993 Pierce Arrow ladder truck, which has exceeded its projected 20-year lifespan and is currently damaged. The swivel mount on top of the truck needs major repairs. The truck, which has a 38-foot-long ladder, has been for sale for the past seven months, priced at $35,000, but has not drawn any serious offers.
Shaw said the cost of the new ladder truck will be covered by the fire department’s vehicle replacement fund. Middlebury dedicates 2 cents on its tax rate each year toward the fire vehicle fund, allowing the force to phase in new trucks when older vehicles need to be retired.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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