NORTH ADAMS -- The city has received a $425,000 federal grant for a new fire engine that will replace a 27-year-old pumper.

City officials were notified by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and federal officials this week that the Fire Department has been awarded the grant after a decade of applying for it. The grant was awarded through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, which is funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"This is a very well-needed truck," said North Adams Fire Director Steve Meranti. "The newest pumper we have is an ‘05."

The 1987 pumper the new engine will replace is currently in need of thousands of dollars in repairs and safety upgrades, according to Meranti. The department's maintenance costs rise every year the older the truck becomes.

"Once you get up 20 years, they're tired," Meranti said.

The city hasn't had the money in the budget for new equipment upgrades, Meranti said, so the new engine wouldn't have been a possibility without the grant.

"Steve Meranti has been doing a fabulous job for the last few cycles trying to rein in one of these grants, and he finally pulled in a winning ticket," Mayor Richard Alcombright said.

The new truck, which should be acquired within a year, is expected to join the fleet as the front-line engine. The current front-line truck will become the No. 2, and its equipment -- including the Jaws of Life equipment -- will be transferred to the new number one.


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The grant requires a 5 percent match from the city, meaning the city's obligation will be $21,250.

The $425,000 cost "[would have been] a big hit to the city," Meranti said.

The Fire Department plans to begin the buying process as quickly as possible.

"We're going to look at manufacturers to see who's got the [best] equipment, and what fits our needs," Meranti said. "We need a certain angle of departure of approach, we need a large engine to get up the [Mohawk] Trail quickly ... we're looking for a normal, nothing super-deluxe, just a well-manufactured piece of equipment."

The $425,000 grant comes on the heels of a $17,000 award -- also through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program -- for new thermal imaging equipment. It will replace aging equipment and enhance firefighter's ability to both battle a blaze and rescue a trapped person from a burning house.

Meranti credits Amalio Jusino, owner of Emergency Response Consulting, for the new fire truck grant. Jusino wrote the grant narrative, Meranti said, and was instrumental in the city finally receiving the award.

The city is expected to receive a formal notice of the award later this week.

To reach Adam Shanks:
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