The Lewiston Fire Department’s 2003 “Emergency One Pumper” truck was considered demolished following an accident in December. The crash destroyed the control panel and pump and damaged the drive shaft. 

LEWISTON — The city will spend nearly $600,000 to replace a firetruck that was heavily damaged when a Fire Department command vehicle struck it in December.

City officials Tuesday authorized the purchase of a new “pumper” truck.

City Administrator Ed Barrett said Thursday that an insurance adjuster quickly found that the cost to repair the department’s 2003 Emergency One Pumper would exceed its value. 

“At first glance, we thought it could be repaired,” Fire Chief Paul LeClair said Thursday. “But the unseen damage was beginning to total well over the value of the vehicle.” 

LeClair said in his memo to Barrett that the estimated value of the 2003 pumper was $75,000, and that repairs would be more than $100,000. Maine Municipal Association, which provides the insurance, told the city it would receive $75,000 for the truck. 

However, the cost of a new pumper is $611,411, which LeClair said is a discounted price that was only good until Feb. 1, with a prepay discount. With the insurance offset, the city had to confirm funding $577,000 on Tuesday. An additional $32,000 will be spent on a 1995 pumper to be used as a spare. 

LeClair said the city buys the vehicles through a cooperative purchasing program that cuts down on overall cost and delivery time. 

According to Barrett, the accident occurred Dec. 26, 2016, around 11:15 p.m. as the department was responding to a report of a vehicle fire on Nimitz Street. Barrett said the fire command vehicle, a 2008 Ford Expedition, was traveling behind the pumper truck and slid into the side of it while turning in icy conditions. 

The command vehicle hit the truck’s control panel, which houses connections for hoses and a pump. 

“No one was going very fast, but the location was the worst possible location,” Barrett said. 

He said the impact moved the pump on the control panel, also creating significant issues with the truck’s transmission and drive shaft. 

LeClair said the accident also affected the internal plumbing. He said pumper trucks generally have a life expectancy of 20 to 25 years, and it wasn’t scheduled to be replaced for another 10 years.

“Then you have an accident and things change,” he said.

The Planning Board and Finance Committee had to convene special meetings this week to approve the funding. The Planning Board must approve any capital purchase not included in the Capital Improvement Plan that totals more than $100,000. The Finance Committee must approve using the cooperative purchasing program. 

Barrett said he and LeClair were “grateful” for everyone’s willingness to meet this week. 

“It would’ve cost more and taken longer for delivery,” he said. 

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