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Hawley voters called to parking lot to buy firetruck

  • Hawley Selectboard member Hussain Hamdan clears traffic cones after a very fast Special Town Meeting in the Town Hall parking lot Monday. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

Staff Writer
Published: 3/31/2020 5:24:01 PM

HAWLEY — Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, public gatherings have been banned, restaurants have had to close their dining spaces and the governor has warned travelers to stay away from Massachusetts — but town governments still must tend to business.

Hawley, whose population was last recorded as 337, found a will and a way to have a Special Town Meeting Monday night after the Selectboard was presented a deal on a firetruck.

Hawley’s oldest truck, a 1981 pumper, has been slated for replacement for at least 10 years. It’s so old that the Fire Department can’t get parts for it anymore, leading to frequent technical problems that have made it costly to maintain, according to Selectboard member Hussain Hamdan.

But a replacement has also been hard to find. The garage that holds the truck was built in the 1980s, when firetrucks were smaller than they are now, and a replacement would need to fit in the same bay, said Fire Capt. Chris Tirone.

Recently, the Selectboard found a 1996 truck of small enough size offered for sale by a fire department in Plattsburgh, N.Y. The price, estimated at no more than $40,000 including necessary repairs and upgrades, is well below what the Selectboard would have expected to pay, Hamdan said.

“We wanted to act on it rather than lose the opportunity,” Hamdan said.

Thus, a Special Town Meeting was called Monday night to appropriate the money. To minimize the possibility of spreading the coronavirus, the meeting was held outside, in the Town Hall parking lot.

Town Moderator Lark Thwing judged attendance to be about 20 people. Luckily, Monday afternoon’s rain had slowed to a thin drizzle by the meeting’s 7 p.m. start.

“A couple of ground rules. Keep 6 feet apart, and don’t breathe on anybody,” Thwing announced after calling the meeting to order.

The one article on the warrant — authorization for a transfer of up to $40,000 from the Fire Equipment Stabilization Fund — passed with no discussion, and only one dissenting vote.

Within less than a minute, the meeting was adjourned, residents were getting back in their cars and town officials were clearing the orange traffic cones from the parking lot.

Hamdan said the replacement truck should be ready within a few months.

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.


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