The Pawlet Volunteer Fire Department welcomed a brand-new fire engine to their station this month. Dubbed Engine Tanker Apparatus (ETA) 542, it will become the primary or “first due” pumper in the Pawlet fire district, replacing an engine that has served the community for 26 years.

Built in Michigan on a Freightliner M2 chassis by HME Ahrens-Fox, the new engine/tanker carries 1,000 gallons of water, 2/3rds of a mile of hose, and a huge array of equipment in its body, which is fabricated from stainless steel. A Cummins L9 turbodiesel moves the truck around Pawlet’s steep terrain, and powers a fire pump capable of moving over 1,500 gallons of water per minute. Pawlet firefighters put a great deal of thought into tailoring this engine to their response area, creating a one-of-a-kind vehicle. For example, a rear-mounted suction intake allows the truck to back down to ponds and rivers to draw water. A typical pumper has no such feature, because it is designed to work from fire hydrants – but Pawlet has no municipal water supply infrastructure. Other major enhancements include electronic pump controls and flowmeters, which make the challenging task of operating a fire pump easier, and a lighting package that will make both driving and working in the dark safer. Ladders are stored in a tunnel that runs through the water tank, keeping them at shoulder-height for safe and fast single-firefighter retrieval.

The new engine replaces a 1997 Freightliner that served Pawlet for 26 years.

The engine bears the words “Pawlet, Vermont” in glittering gold along its body, proudly representing the community everywhere it goes – a nod to the fact that the PVFD provides mutual aid over a wide area, and takes pride in being of service to other neighboring towns. It also bears the apt tagline that was painted on the department’s 1972 Maxim pumper: “We strike when it’s hot!”