SOUTHWICK – On Wednesday, with the assistance of town counsel Ben Coyle, Southwick Fire Chief Russ Anderson sent out a letter to the homeowners of the five residences that live across from the covered bridge on 412-418 College Hwy.
The big dilemma with the bridge has been whether or not it can support large and heavy vehicles, especially if the fire department has an emergency at one of those homes and has to cross the bridge.
After consulting with local engineer, Michael Pietras, Anderson found out that the weight on the front axle of the brush truck is 8,000 pounds while the rear weighs 32,000 pounds. This determination presents an issue for the fire department.
“The majority of our vehicles have a higher weight class than 8,000 on the front axel,” said Anderson.
This means that the department’s full-sized tankers and pumpers won’t be able to go over the bridge since they are much heavier.
“It extremely limits us on what we can do,” added Anderson.
Since the only vehicles that the fire department can have over the bridge is an ambulance and a brush truck, fire personnel can only carry 300 gallons water with the brush truck. The residences that live near the bridge are far from the nearest water source, which is the Great Brook. According to Anderson, the closest home is about 2,000 feet from the brook.
On July 26, Anderson first brought the issue to the Select Board after the past fire chief informed him that the 2007 Nor’easter storm may have jeopardized the bridge. It was also noted that the department’s fire truck tanker weights 45 tons and years back, the covered bridge was rated for 65 tons.