MONROE, Conn. — In the words of the hit 1970s TV series “The Six Million Dollar Man,” the five new fire trucks that the Monroe Volunteer Fire Department is getting will be better, stronger and faster.
The new trucks will have the latest and safest equipment and better technology, "all of which will help us do our job better," Monroe Volunteer Fire Department spokesman Kevin Catalano said.
At a town meeting Monday, residents approved spending $3.8 million for the new trucks in a vote of 44-2. No one spoke against the plan, Catalano said.
“We are very thankful that the town supported this so we can get this moving,” he said in a telephone interview.
According to Catalano, the five trucks will be spread across the three fire departments in town -- two will go to Stepney, two to Stevenson and one to Monroe.
One is a ladder truck, one is a rescue truck, one is a tanker and two are engines.
“We will be upgrading the fleet,” Catalano said. “The new trucks will replace much older trucks -- some of them go back to the late 1980s and early 1990s."
These older trucks are still in operation, but they have started to feel their age, according to Catalano.
"Once the trucks get older, they become less reliable as maintenance and repair costs spike.
“The more we can try to fleet newer trucks, the less downtime there will be for maintenance and the safer the trucks are to ride,” he said.
The fire department presents a plan to the town every year for new equipment.
“Ideally we like to do this over time. There is only so many funds available in the budget every year," Catalano said.
Although the approval came this week, "and we have specs for all the trucks, it will be a year before they are manufactured and delivered to us. There is a lot of customization involved."
According to Catalano, the last big purchase the department had was in 2009, when it acquired six trucks all at once -- which cost about $3.5 million.
The Monroe Volunteer Fire Department serves 22,000 residents and gets 600 fire calls annually. Among all three fire departments, there are 75 active members.