SWAMPSCOTT — If you see a blue fire engine riding around town, don’t be alarmed. The Swampscott Fire Department has a shiny new set of wheels.
It’s big, it’s blue and it’s the department’s first truck in nearly a decade. The $645,000 piece of equipment, which needed no extra funds for the color change, is stainless steel, includes a nearly silent engine that keeps the truck quiet, has a tight-turning radius for Swampscott’s narrow roads and comes equipped with an approach and departure angle that allows it to go up steep hills.
“We’re really excited and couldn’t be happier with how the truck came out,” said Captain Graham Archer.
The fire department’s seven-person truck selection committee deliberated for more than 10 months on every detail that went into the engine. Archer, a member of the committee, said the idea to stray from tradition and go blue came from the younger firefighters who grew up playing on Big Blue sports teams, and whose children play on them now.
“Our decision to go with the blue was very much a community thing,” said Fire Chief Kevin Breen. “We wanted it to be more than just a hunk of steel.”
The process for getting a new engine began in 2017, after the department received approval from the Capital Improvement Committee, Finance Committee and annual Town Meeting to use funds from the budget to pay for it. Then, Archer said they put it out to bid for a year before deciding to go with Seagrave, a manufacturer based in Wisconsin.
Swampscott Fire Department was told the engine would take 280 days to construct, but, according to Breen, the manufacturer finished nearly three months early. “Big Blue,” as the department is calling it, will replace a 22-year-old reserve engine and become their front line piece.
“When we finalized the decision to go blue, we knew it would be controversial,” said Breen. “I am a traditionalist so it was a hard sell for me at first, but I’m glad we did it.”
Members of the department weren’t the only ones in awe after seeing the engine in person. Archer said the manufacturer was so pleased with how it came out, they asked to showcase it in April at the Fire Department Instructors’ Conference in Indianapolis.
The engine is expected to serve the department for the next 20 to 25 years, according to Breen.
“While some may marvel at “Big Blue” for the color, the lifesaving tools and features of this truck will help protect our firefighters and citizens of Swampscott for the next generation,” said Breen.