MEXICO — Firefighters here surprised Chief Gary Wentzell on Feb. 4 by dedicating the department’s recently acquired fire truck pumper to him.
The dedication took place at the annual meeting of the Mexico Fire Department.
Wentzell was recognized for his years of dedicated service, as well as saving money for the town. He was awarded a framed certificate of appreciation from the Town of Mexico by the Board of Selectmen and Town Manager John Madigan.
Last April, the Board of Selectmen approved a proposal by Wentzell to trade two older fire trucks for a newer one, at a net cost of $119,000. The cost was $179,000, less the $60,000 trade-in value for their pumper and ladder truck.
An article for that was approved by voters in June. A loan agreement for the purchase of the 2002 fire truck was approved on Nov. 13 by selectmen.
Madigan said the initial payment of $19,000 will be made from the fire department reserve account. Then, from a $100,000 loan (at 3.9 percent interest) from Franklin Savings Bank, the town will make yearly payments of $20,000 over each of the next five years.
The 2002 E-One Cyclone Custom Pumper was purchased from from the Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus company in Alabama. Wentzell said he had viewed the same truck online over a year ago, before it became available.
Firefighter Richard Jones, who travel down to Alabama with Wentzell to pick up Engine 23, noted how excited the chief was about this truck.
Selectman George Byam said this truck was from Texas, so there are not any rusting issues. Further, it only has 43,000 miles and was used as an EMS response vehicle.
On a side note, it was decided to keep the number 23 on the truck, especially when it was learned that number 23 coincided with the number of years Wentzell has served as Mexico’s fire chief. Jones said Wentzell has served a total of 32 years with the Mexico Fire Department.
Wentzell said he didn’t have any idea about the relationship of the No. 23 until he was told about it.
Jones said the cost of the decals, placed on both sides of the truck, was taken of without any cost to the town. They were supplied by Erik Designs.
Wentzell noted the generosity of James Russell, owner of Brindlee Mountain, who donated the ladder truck received from Mexico to a man in New York, who has a toddler who has had a number of heart associations. The truck, picked up in Mexico last week, will be used for fundraisers to help cover the child’s medical costs.