City seeking new options for damaged fire truck

NORWICH – The city’s Fire Department is currently without an aerial ladder, presenting some potential safety challenges for the department and imminent financial challenges to be handled by the Common Council.

While the truck is driven to every fire call for use of its ground equipment, the use of its 100-foot ladder has been off limits for months, according to Fire Chief Tracy Chawgo. Engineers of the truck’s manufacturer found that one of the supporting cross-members has significant amounts of rust and has deteriorated to a point where it presents a safety risk if the ladder is used.

“If the ladder is up, there is high potential that it could fail,” said Chawgo.

The truck – a 1982 model purchased used for $90,000 from the village of Suffern, NY 12 years ago – would commonly be used to fight fires at tall structures or at some of the broad, single-story structures in the Town of Norwich. “Price Chopper is a good example,” said Chawgo, referring to a minor incident at the grocery chain location just south of the city earlier this week. If fire had spread to the center of the building, an aerial truck would have been critical in reaching the flames, he said.

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