Faulty Fire Truck Leads to Lawsuit in Ipswich

It was supposed to be on the front lines, pumping water onto fires in Ipswich, Massachusetts. But instead, town officials say their newest fire truck is a lemon.

In the four years since the town purchased the apparatus for nearly a half million dollars, it has not been working enough to be on the roads for a collective total of 260 days.

“I would definitely say it is a lemon,” Ipswich Town Manager Robin Crosbie said. “When it catches on fire when you’re on the way to a fire, then you’ve got a problem.”

The problem is why Ipswich officials asked for their money back, first sending a demand letter to the manufacturers, and now filing a lawsuit because the letter was unsuccessful.

The complaint lists a number of issues ranging from small mechanical failures to major power train problems that have rendered the truck inoperable at times. Random loss of the engine, frequent regenerations and excessive burning and consumption of oil are just some of the defects mentioned.

The Ipswich Fire Department has had Engine 5 serviced on many occasions, but Fire Chief Gregory Gagnon said they keep running into the same issues. The truck also has to go to Hopkinton for service, which only adds the time off the roads.

“I don’t believe it will meet the demands of the town for 30 years,” said Gagnon.

NBC Boston reached out to Navistar Inc. and Kovatch Mobile Equipment, both companies listed in the complaint. They had no comment on the pending litigation.

With no response from the companies coming under fire, the department has no choice but fight fires with older trucks at times, knowing they cannot rely on Engine 5.

“I would like a refund,” Crosbie said. “I would like a do over on this and I don’t think we’re going to get that, but what we can do is work toward a settlement where we have an absolutely reliable vehicle.”

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