Westport to buy $232K worth of new fire vehicles

Westport Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Kronick sits at desk at his desk at department headquarters

Westport Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Kronick sits at desk at his desk at department headquarters

Contributed / Contributed Photo

WESTPORT — The Westport Representative Town Meeting voted unanimously to approve a total of $232,000 for three new vehicles for the town’s fire department.

All of the new vehicles will replace those that are more than a decade old, including an ambulance used a dive rescue unit that dates back to 1996.

“Old enough to be a state senator,” quipped RTM member Harris Falk during Tuesday’s meeting on the subject.

The fire department requested $95,990 to replace the dive unit and add equipment to make it suitable for use. The department also requested $69,748 to replace and upfit a shift commander vehicle to replace one that dates back to 2009, and $66,262 to replace and upfit a command staff SUV unit, which is used by the fire chief, deputy chief and fire marshal.

The new SUV will replace a 2007 vehicle that was disposed of in 2019.

During the meeting, Deputy Fire Chief Michael Kronick explained that the longer the fire department keeps these vehicles on the road, the more they cost the town in fuel and maintenance. The fire department has a fleet of 12 non-fire truck vehicles. Kronick said replacing the vehicles somewhat frequently is actually more cost efficient for the town.

“My goal has been to get them into a cycle where I’m not running into the ground and they’re failing me,” Kronick said. “Moving forward from this, every two to three years, I’m (looking to replace) two to three vehicles. What that does is it keeps my fleet fairly low mileage and younger age.”

In turn, he said, that keeps operating costs down.

The RTM members mostly supported appropriating money for the new vehicles. Falk asked if there any been any thought given to purchasing hybrid vehicles instead, as Westport has made a pledge to be a net-zero community by 2050, meaning no net impact on greenhouse gas emissions, water quality or waste creation.

“We’re going for net-zero, and (these vehicles) don’t seem to be getting us any closer to net-zero,” Falk said.

Kronick said there were few options for hybrid or electric vehicles that suited the fire department’s needs. However, he said expects there to be more options on the market by 2025.

Ultimately, the RTM voted 29-0 on all three requests to appropriate funding for the new vehicles.