Athol FD takes ownership of new truck

  • GUARNERA

  • The Athol Fire Department took delivery of a new pumper truck, manufactured by Toyne Fire Apparatus of Breda, Iowa. The total cost of the truck, including training, was $621,000. The town contributed $29,580 toward the cost, with the remainder covered by a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant. Staff photo/Greg Vine

  • Athol Selectboard Chair Rebecca Bialecki waves from the cab of Athol's new firetruck. Staff photo/Greg Vine

  • Firefighters, family members and town officials were among those attending a ceremony noting the delivery of the Athol Fire Department's new pumper truck. Staff photo/Greg Vine

  • Town officials, firefighters and family members ceremonially “push” the Athol Fire Department’s new pumper truck into the center bay at the Uptown fire station. Staff photo/Greg Vine

  • SUHOSKI

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 1/19/2022 5:14:35 PM
Modified: 1/19/2022 5:13:30 PM

ATHOL — Town officials, firefighters, and family members ceremoniously “pushed” Athol Fire Department’s new truck into the center bay of the Uptown Fire Station Tuesday morning, Jan. 18. The department’s acquisition of the truck has been nearly four years in coming, since Chief Joseph Guarnera applied for — and eventually landed — a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to cover nearly the entire cost of the more-than $600,000 vehicle.

“The process started in 2018,” Guarnera told those on hand for the ceremony. “Then in ’19 we got the grant. The grant was for $621,000 and $16,000 of that was for training. So, everybody was trained to emergency vehicle operations and NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards.”

Guarnera said the pumper truck itself cost $605,000. Of the total amount, the town chipped in $29,580,

Of FEMA’s AFP (Assistance to Firefighters Program) grant, Guarnera said, “It’s a very, very competitive grant. That year, I believe we were the only Fire Department in this part of the state that got one.

“It replaces a 47-year-old piece, and AFP regulations state that no apparatus should be on the road that’s anything over 25. But that’s what we had, and it did its job.”

The old firetruck, Guarnera noted, may someday find itself being ogled by tourists and firefighting enthusiasts.

“I was telling the chair of the Board of Selectmen and the town manager,” he said, “word got out that we were replacing it, and last Saturday I got an email from a museum wanting our piece of equipment. So, we’ll see what happens with the town on that.”

Guarnera said an apparatus committee, headed by Capt. (Eric) Jack, “designed everything that you see on this apparatus. This apparatus was built from scratch. The apparatus committee, as well as other people, like Capt. (Jamal) Hamilton and Firefighter (Arthur) Shepherdson, got very involved in designing what we needed it to do. This was built exactly to the specifications of this department.”

The pumper was manufactured by Toyne Fire Apparatus of Breda, Iowa. It was delivered to Athol on Tuesday, Jan. 11.

In an interview with the Athol Daily News, Town Manager Shaun Suhoski said the acquisition of the new truck is just one example among many of Chief Guarnera’s efforts to modernize Athol’s Fire Department and build a solid team of firefighters.

“One of the attributes that the screening committee saw in Chief Guarnera when he was hired,” said Suhoski, “was his history and experience, the amount of training and education that he brought to the table. I know the chief has worked hard, along with the members of the department and bargaining unit as well, to try to build a team approach.”

Suhoski cited Guarnera’s decision to appoint an apparatus committee “to brainstorm, you know, what is the equipment we use the most, how can we make this new vehicle as efficient as it can be, which makes it even more valuable as a lifesaving tool when they’re on the scene.

“So, I think everybody’s proud to see that.”

The town manager credited the chief with securing the grant for the truck, as well as a number of others he has landed since taking leadership of the department in September 2018.

“The grant for the truck was really something,” said Suhoski. “He’s certainly upgraded the equipment. He’s written several grants — not all of them as splashy as the fire truck — but for important things, whether it’s self-contained breathing units or turn out gear or other things that are needed for the department.

“That’s one thing the chief has made an effort to do: to bring things up to a better standard, closer to the NFPA — he says regulations — but they’re guidelines. And that’s kind of a talent, and that’s what he’s trying to do.”

Suhoski also lauded the team Guarnera has put together.

“He’s got a great team over there,” he continued. “Our captains are all very experienced, and the deputy chief (Jeff Parker) has great experience; both he and Capt. Jack work as part-time chiefs on towns on either side of us (Phillipston and Royalston, respectively). So, it really speaks to the talent and the professionalism of the entire crew.

“And something like this — no pun intended — gets everybody fired up. It’s exciting to see that, and long overdue. And if you talk to the chief, he’s already looking ahead and asking how we’re going to budget for the next one. We need one more piece to bring our fleet up to a full and current complement.”

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com


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