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11/20/2013 2:00:00 PM
Somerville Donates Fire Engine to Monhegan
The Somerville Volunteer Fire Department has donated this 1974 International fire engine to the Monhegan Volunteer Fire Department. (Photo courtesy Mike Dostie)
The Somerville Volunteer Fire Department has donated this 1974 International fire engine to the Monhegan Volunteer Fire Department. (Photo courtesy Mike Dostie)
By J.W. Oliver


A gift of a fire engine to the Monhegan Volunteer Fire Department will greatly increase the ability of the small island brigade to fight fires.

The Somerville Volunteer Fire Department donated the 1974 International fire engine to the Monhegan department. "It couldn't be a better fit if we tried," Somerville Fire Chief Mike Dostie said.

The 825-gallon tank triples the capacity of the island trucks, Dostie said, and the plastic tank will never rust.

The 1974 truck also has a more efficient pump. "The truck they have pumps 250 gallons a minute, and the one we're sending over there pumps 1000 gallons a minute, so that'll be a huge gain to them to get water where they need to," Dostie said.

The truck comes with a foam kit and a high-pressure booster reel, which will help island firefighters prepare for a grass fire or woods fire.

A cab-over model with a relatively compact, 22-foot frame, the truck will be able to negotiate the narrow gravel roads and steep hills of the island.

Dostie began thinking about the Monhegan fleet during an August visit to the island with the Lincoln County Fire Academy, where he serves as a volunteer instructor.

"We went up and did a training with them this summer, and the truck they have has just about had it," he said. The island currently relies on a pair of small, mid-1960s International trucks.

Monhegan Fire Chief Kole Lord and Deputy Emergency Management Director Jessica Stevens recently visited Somerville to test the fire truck.

"They're pretty excited to get it," Dostie said. "It's going to really help them out a lot."

The truck is currently being serviced before delivery to the island.

Somerville, with the help of a couple of local students, will also send new, handmade fire station signs to the island.

The students made a sign for the Somerville department as part of a community-service project, Dostie said. The sign came out great, and after his August visit to Monhegan, he asked them to make two more for the island stations.

Lord, the Monhegan fire chief, is grateful for the assist.

The new truck is registered, road-legal, state-approved and user-friendly, Lord said, all improvements over the aging trucks on the island. The old trucks are difficult to maintain, especially for a volunteer fire chief 10 miles out to sea.

The department will store the truck in the old Monhegan Emergency Rescue Service building, which offers heat and more room than the small fire station. The department eventually hopes to rebuild the main fire station.

The presence of the new truck will give the department an opportunity to evaluate one of the old trucks and determine if it can maintain it as a safe, reliable vehicle.

"We'll keep our original truck, which we've had for a long time now," Lord said. The department plans to dispose of the other truck in a fair, reasonable way, perhaps through a raffle process of some kind. The truck runs, so somebody on the island might want to convert it into a pickup truck, Lord said.

For the Somerville Volunteer Fire Department, the gift of the truck is a way to pay forward the generosity of other departments.

The Somerville agency, like Monhegan, operates on a modest budget, Dostie said. Westport Island once donated a truck to Somerville, and Damariscotta sold the department another truck at a bargain price.

Somerville plans to replace the 1974 International with a 1985 Ford from Wells. "They had the exact type of truck we were looking for," Dostie said.

The Wells truck has a 1000-gallon tank and a 1250-gallon-per-minute pump and will carry up to five passengers, more than the old truck. "It's going to help us in a lot of ways," Dostie said.



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