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Bethel Fire Department ladder truck briefly back in service before sent off for repairs

An aerial ladder truck that was out of service for several months in Bethel came back into service for a few days before it was sent off for an overhaul.  When a ladder truck is needed on a call, mutual aid is requested from surrounding towns. 

The Bethel Fire Department had the hydraulic fluid replaced and one of the big safety issues was resolved.  This came days before the Bethel Fire Apparatus Committee met to recommend the firetruck be sent to the manufacturer for repairs.  Fire Chief Scott Murphy previously said the parts are difficult to replace due to the age of the 42-year old truck.

Committee Chairman Richard Thode questioned the timing while recapping the timeline.  The truck passed ladder inspection in August, was removed from service in September and then the fire company made a recommendation for a more than $1.5 million emergency certification for a new truck.

An inspection was done earlier this Spring on the truck, which was taken out of service because the ladder wouldn't extend.  A hydraulic leak at the swivel was found.  If it's at the bottom, Thode says it's an easier repair than if it's at the top.  In that case, the whole tower would have to be removed. 

Thode says Shipman would charge $150 an hour to do the hydraulic repairs and address the power steering situation.  He added that Shipman will then update the town on costs to date, and move on to other needed repairs.  Those include frayed seatbelts, a missing visor and the auto eject not working, things Thode says happen over time.

While any repair won't guarantee another 20 years of life for the truck, it would get it back in service.  The 2013 Holdsworth study determined that the Bethel Fire Department's current truck should be replaced with a completely new truck by 2020.  The Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department does not have a ladder truck, but officials say will need one in the near future due to growth in that section of town.

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