McDowell serving as acting Barnstead Police Chief

Selectmen talk police and fire departments

by Tim Croes
Staff Writer - The Baysider
December 17, 2013
BARNSTEAD — The Barnstead Board of Selectmen met with the heads of the police and fire departments during its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Sergeant Joseph McDowell is the acting police chief, now that former Chief Ken Borgia has retired. McDowell said Borgia has turned his uniform and badge into the department.

Chair Priscilla Tiede reported that the selectmen recently met with Borgia to conduct a full inventory of the police department prior to him going on vacation.

McDowell reported that work on the evidence room is progressing. He said that the department is working with a judge to figure out what old evidence can be disposed of.

Vice-chair Dave Kerr questioned when the evidence room would be completed and McDowell said the work could be completed if the officer is allowed to work on that project and not pulled out of the office. Tiede questioned if could be completed by the March town meeting and McDowell said that it would be "most definitely" be finished by that date.

McDowell reported that the transmission is being worked on one of the cruisers and the other vehicles are running fine. He asked how he could get access to the administrative portion of the computer system. The board asked Karen Montgomery, the selectmen's secretary, to work with Cybertron to give McDowell the proper access.

McDowell reported that a storm coat is needed for the department. Kerr suggested that the board should be notified if any items were missing from the police department budget.

Tiede talked about the decision to hold off on purchasing a new vehicle for the police department.

Fire Chief Mark Tetreault met with the board and Tiede asked him about concerns that the chain of command was broken at a recent selectmen's meeting. Tiede said she checked with the town attorney and it was determined that it wasn't a break in the chain of command if the person was speaking from their heart.

Tetreault felt that claims were made that he wasn't doing certain things. He said that if there were issues with payroll or human resources that people should talk to him or their supervisor.

Kerr said it was an issue of the matters being resolved in a timely manner. Montgomery said that once timecards are submitted, payment must be submitted by a certain date to avoid getting a fine.

Tetreault talked about the maintenance schedule for an ambulance. He said it is up to the department to schedule the maintenance. It is up to the town to keep the official records.

The board discussed a bill that came from Lakes Region Mutual Aid for $941.24. The bill was sent to the town. The county approved their budget and then cut the budget after it was approved. The bill was sent to cover the shortfall. Kerr questioned the bill and member Gordon Preston questioned the town receiving the bill.

Tiede felt the program was paid in full, and Tetreault felt the money is owed to the county for the service. The board asked Montgomery to look into the issue.

Rusty Krause said it was a problem in the past and he encouraged the board to get involved in the process.

The board approved doing the physicals for the fire department personnel, with the hiring freeze in effect, next year.

Member Jim Barnard questioned if a member came back with effects from sleep apnea. Tetreault said any personnel would need to pass the physical to be a member of the department and issues would have to be addressed for individuals to pass the physical.

Tetreault reported that Advanced EMTs have until the end of 2015 to get recertified as an Advanced EMT. Otherwise they would revert back to an EMT. The first test provided comes at no cost. If they fail the test, the Advanced EMTs can take the refresher course up to three more times.

Deputy Chief Shawn Mulcahy talked about a homeland security grant and talked about a grant that may be coming in to pay for the generator for the fire department.

Tetreault talked about the Barnstead Fire Department and reported that it was graded as one of the lowest cost departments that provide 24/7 coverage for fire and medical coverage.

He talked about the well at the Parade Fire Station. It has been tested several times, and high levels lead, manganese and iron have been found. Tetreault presented the board with a plan to purchase a filtration system, at a cost of $4,700.

In the past, money was raised to drill a new well, but the money is required to be used by the end of the year. The board approved purchasing the filtration system that will address the concerns brought in the testing at a cost of no more than $4,700.

Tiede suggested that a list of the chain of command should be posted in the fire department.

The board discussed the problem with the frame on Engine 1. Mulcahy said rusting is occurring between the frame rails. He also reported that no preventive maintenance has been done in the last two months.

Mulcahy pointed out that engine is a 1997 vehicle and sister vehicle is a 2000 vehicle. This short gap in years could present a challenge in the future. He is hoping the department can receive a grant for an all wheel drive truck with a pumper, with the government paying for half of the vehicle. He said Engine 1 could make it through this year, but going out three years is a stretch.

The board discussed changing the fire department to 12-hour shifts, but Tetreault spoke out against this. He said that 24-hour shifts are the most efficient way to run the department. Tetreault said seven positions would need to be filled to provide 24-hour coverage.

Barnard pointed out that part-time employees could be qualified as full-time positions. He recommended to fill the position and a long-time paramedic in town could fill the position.

Tetreault pointed out that in the recent Master Plan survey, people were happy with the service of the fire department.

Kerr questioned if the chief could pull shifts. Tetreault said it is not his intention to pull shifts, and in the past he has ridden on the second ambulance. He reported that a paramedic intercept cost $525. He also reported that making the chief work shifts is a reduction of services.

This issue was brought up during public input by Hazel Holmes. She presented the selectmen with a document and claimed that having the chief cover part of the duty crew would result in a reduction of services. She felt this decision should be decision for town meeting and shouldn't be an arbitrary decision by the board of selectmen.

Tetreault requested several warrant articles to be brought forward. He suggested $50,000 for an expendable trust for equipment, $100,000 for capital reserve for a fire engine and either increasing the ambulance revenues from 40 percent to 80 to support the ambulances or adding $100,000 for ambulances.

The radios for the vehicles were discussed and Kerr asked if the department could get by with one radio per vehicle. Tetreault said having two radios in each vehicle is standard and it is a safety issue.

Deputy Chief Rodney Boyd said he has completed 146 mechanical inspections and five fire inspections this year. He feels it is an efficient use of the taxpayer dollars. It creates a positive cash flow for the department.

Barnard brought up the possibility of putting a new fire station further north. There was discussion about having a single building, but Tetreault said he would be in support of using the Parade Fire Station and building another station further north.

During public input, there were concerns about the police department and discussion that happens during meetings. There were more concerns about the fire chief serving on the ambulance or helping out on a duty crew.

Additionally, concerns were brought up about micro-managing the departments. Preston asked if people in town felt safe, and there was a discussion about when the town discussed having seven full-time police officers.

Steve Burrows, a new addition to the police department, felt the police services in town were inadequate coming from a law enforcement perspective. He is concerned with the safety in town.

Paul Vince talked about the Local Government Center appealing the decision regarding the withholding too much money for insurance. Vince said the group has obtained its own lobbying group. Vince encouraged the selectmen to engage the legislatures about the cost and services. Vince also brought up the fact the one of lawyers involved in the appeal is a member of the same firm as the town attorney.

There was a question raised about the town departments being on Facebook. The issue of the highway department Facebook being taken down was brought up. Montgomery said permission was requested for the Facebook page and anything could be posted on the page.

The board said a Facebook page could be set up. Tetreault said that the fire department already has one set up.

Montgomery reported that a snow date would be set up for the candidates' night in February at the library.

The town offices will be closed at 1 p.m. on Christmas Eve, with any employees required to work after that time receiving holiday pay, and the board discussed closing early on New Year's Eve, but they agreed to keep the regular hours.

The board agreed to lift the purchasing freeze for the town.

The board reviewed the payroll and weekly manifest, approved the minutes of Dec. 3, approved an abatement form, a veteran's credit application and a waiver. The board also reviewed the November building permits, the prosecutor's report, the November fire rescue reports and approved a culvert order.

The board discussed the estimate to hydro-seal the salt shed and agreed to discuss it in the near future with the road agent.

The Barnstead Board of Selectmen meets every Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Barnstead Town Hall.

Tim Croes can be reached at or 569-3126

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