HOWLAND – The town’s fire department became more versatile this week after a new truck was put into service.

Howland Fire Chief Josh McNally said Monday the 2003 2.5 ton truck it acquired around Christmas was ready to respond to emergencies.

“We can get into places with that truck that we can’t with any other fire truck,” McNally said.

The truck, a seven-speed automatic Stewart and Stevens, was granted by the Maine Forest Service as part of the Federal Excess Property Program. The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service allows the MFS to acquire excess vehicles and loan or transfer them to local departments. McNally said the truck now belongs to the town and, after two years, Howland can either continue to use the truck or use it to acquire another vehicle.

“Before, we had to turn it in (to the government) once we were done using it,” McNally said. “It is not that way now.”

Firefighter Scott Crocket was instrumental in getting the vehicle ready for the road, McNally said.

“He headed the project up,” the Fire Chief said. “He did the painting and wiring, and installed the emergency lights.

“The Howland Fire Department thanks him for his efforts and the hours he put in to get the project off the ground and followed through to completion.”

McNally said it was not uncommon for his team to “step up” when needed.

“I can’t do everything myself, so when employees step up, I really appreciate it,” he said.

The truck is equipped with a 500 gallon tank of water and a 300 gallon per minute pump. McNally said the vehicle can be used to either shuttle water or draft for other engines to fill off of. It has been outfitted with all the necessary tools and hose and will be in service year-round.

“We’ve done it up right,” McNally said. “We have turned it into an emergency vehicle.”

He said the vehicle will be utilized on tree-on-wire calls, such as the ones this past weekend due to the high winds and rain. It will also be used for wildland fires and other “terrible (terrain) or off-road type incidents.”

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