EAST DIXFIELD – Officials from the neighboring towns of Wilton and Dixfield agreed to further explore a plan to purchase a new firetruck for the East Dixfield Fire Co.

The two Boards of Selectmen, town managers and fire chiefs sat down late Thursday afternoon to try to find a way to replace the East Dixfield Fire Co.’s 1981 fire engine.

The village and surrounding area are in both towns.

The two municipalities last worked out a joint deal in 2002 when the cost of building a $90,000 addition onto the small, cramped East Dixfield fire station was equally shared.

But, said East Dixfield Fire Co. member Rodney Hall, the last time the two towns shared the cost for a new engine was in 1981, and that is the engine that must be replaced.

East Dixfield Fire Chief Randy Hall said the truck’s tank is split (reducing the amount of water the truck can carry by half), it has brake problems and a variety of other operating issues.

Replacement is what is needed.

“The truck is not fixable,” he said.

Following an hour-long discussion, Dixfield Fire Chief Scott Dennett agreed to lend a 1987 fire engine to the smaller department on a short-term basis.

In the meantime, Dixfield Town Manager Eugene Skibitsky and Wilton Town Manager Rhonda Irish will work together on possible ways to purchase a new truck.

Dixfield can lend the 1987 fire engine because the town is scheduled to buy a new one within the next few months.

Both boards support applying for a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. But that money is not guaranteed, Dennett said, because a huge number of fire departments from across the country are vying for the same pot of money.

A grant application will be made, but the town managers will look at alternatives. That could mean splitting the cost of a new fire engine.

Randy Hall estimated the price for a new engine would be at least $200,000.

Skibitsky said a presentation could be made in a year that would show the amount of money each town could agree to put toward the purchase, and the number of years that the truck would be financed.

In the meantime, Dennett said Dixfield’s 1987 engine could be loaned to East Dixfield soon after the Dixfield selectmen’s meeting set for May 11.

Official discussion and possible approval for applying for the grant, lending the engine and for authorizing the two town managers to work on a possible loan presentation, will take place at two Boards of Selectmen meetings.

“This has been a good meeting,” Irish said.

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