ROCKINGHAM — Local fire departments are getting some of the equipment they need following recent approval by the Rockingham Select Board.
After several meetings regarding the purchase of fire apparatus and much discussion at the June 7 Select Board meeting, the board authorized the purchase of two trucks – up to $250,000 for a fire truck for the Saxtons River Fire Department and up to $295,000 for a fire truck for the Volunteer Rockingham Fire Department. While matters were settled, one meeting attendee expressed his frustration with the process.
"This process was flawed, probably some of you may already know that," said Rockingham firefighter Wade Masure. "It's been a screwed up process right from the get-go, right from day one."
Some firefighters have been speaking with vendors since Town Meeting and Masure went on to explain that while he had nothing against the mentioned vendors, E-One or KME, he felt the process was not fair to any of the other dealers or to the firefighters that put several hours into the process. He highlighted that he thought it was "wrong" that other bidders' prices were revealed to the last vendor.
Chairman Lamont "Monte" Barnett then directed a question to Rockingham Fire Chief Dennis Jeffery, asking him if he felt they were fair to all the vendors. Jeffery said he believes they were.
It was noted by members of the Select Board that lower bids came in for both trucks. Saxtons River Fire Chief Arthur Smith said he received a quote on Tuesday of $230,000 from VTEC and Jeffrey for Rockingham at $293,000 from E-One and $291,000 from KME.
Before an authorization was made for the fire vehicles, much discussion was around how much money could be spent on the vehicles. Barnett referenced that voters had approved $500,000 at Town Meeting and that the proposed purchases would be going over that amount. Municipal Town Manger Willis "Chip" Stearns mentioned that the town currently ha a $681,000 surplus. Select Board Member Joshua Hearne said he felt that the total cost for two vehicles was a "no brainer."
Other firefighting equipment needs were discussed as well, such as a thermal imaging camera, which help firefighters to see areas of heat through smoke, darkness, or heat-permeable barriers, and jaws of life, a Hydraulic rescue tool used by emergency rescue personnel to assist vehicle extrication of crash victims, as well as other rescues from small spaces. After much discussion between the fire departments and Select Board, the board authorized the purchase of a thermal imaging camera for the Saxtons River Fire Department at a cost not to exceed $12,000.
Barnett asked the three fire chiefs present at the meeting if they would consider interdepartmental training. Barnett asked if they could commit to cooperation and training and they all responded 'yes.' Bellows Falls Fire Chief Ronald Lake noted that having spare sets of gear available for a firefighter not in the respective departments may become costly.
In other business the Select Board approve the Revolving Loan Fund Policies and Procedures as presented. Also, Stearns distributed photos that would eliminate seven parking spaces on the west side of Rockingham Street starting across from Windham Antiques. There was a consensus from the board to proceed with this plan.
The next Select Board meeting will be held Tuesday, June 21.
Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275