Sparks fly at district meeting over expenditure requests
July 22, 2009
TILTON — In making several expenditure requests at Thursday night's meeting, Tilton-Northfield's fire chief faced opposition from two of the three fire commissioners about everything from engine repairs to safety rope.
Chief Stephen Carrier first presented the commission with bids on repair work for Engine 1. One cost estimate for the repairs, Carrier said, came from Dingee Machine in Cornish for $5,892. Desourcie Emergency Products gave an estimate of $6,398. Desourcie would come to the fire station to make the needed repairs while Dingee would require that the truck be delivered to their garage.
Carrier expressed the desire to use Desourcie for the convenience of having the truck stay at the fire station and not take two firefighters from the department to both deliver and pick up the truck. Time, fuel and wear and tear on the vehicles, as well as having to bring in a firefighter to cover for the missing department members who deliver the truck, are added expenses, he told the commission.
Commissioner Tom Gallant was in favor of Desourcie performing the repairs.
"We had a situation back awhile ago where a truck was hit in the back end and they did a good job walking us through the repairs," he said.
Chairman Kevin Waldron and Commissioner Paul Auger disagreed with accepting Desourcie's bid. They also did not agree with paying $30/hour for coverage if an on-duty fire fighter was sent to deliver the truck. Waldron felt the chief and perhaps Capt. Ober could drive the vehicle to Cornish during their scheduled hours at the station.
Carrier stated he did not like the facilities at the Cornish repair shop and said their garage was not even large enough to paint a vehicle they took to them once before.
"It's an old garage and he had to pull the truck out and turn it around to finish painting it," Carrier said. "I've never seen a set of plans from them either. They're done in his head. It's not the level of engineering we've gotten in the past."
Auger made a motion to accept the proposed repairs from Dingee. Despite Gallant's statement that he "absolutely opposed" the motion, it passed two to one.
Other motions for expenditures were protested as well.
Carrier requested money to paint and stripe the new command vehicle, which was only available in white, drew opposition from Waldron.
"I have no interest to paint that vehicle. That's $1,252 we most certainly will need at a later time," Waldron said.
Carrier said that the red enabled the safety reflective striping better visibility and Deputy Chief Mike Robinson agreed that pride in how the department's vehicles looked was important to the department. Gallant pointed out that the intention had always been to paint the vehicle to coordinate with the rest of the department's equipment. The money to do so had been approved by both the Budget Committee and at the annual District Meeting.
Gallant's motion to accept the bid of $1,252 from Auto Serv to paint the Command Vehicle passed, but barely. Auger seconded the motion even though he "didn't like it" and in the end it passed two to one, with Waldron voting no.
A request for the purchase of special safety rope intended for use in large buildings where there may be no visibility was met with opposition by Waldron and Auger also. Carrier explained that this rope was marked every 10 feet to allow a fire fighter to know how far into a building he was in an emergency. Buildings like J.Jill and Home Depot, he told the commissioners, are probably the most dangerous his department has to face in the event of a fire.
"You could be crawling 500 feet to get to the middle of the building," he said.
This rope, he said, helps them stay oriented when they enter a large facility.
Auger thought that buying a rope that would most likely sit unused bothered him.
Gallant replied, "You hope you never have to need something like that but if you do, it's there."
Waldron and Auger finally approved $164 to cover just the cost of hardware for a rope. They asked that the chief find a rope at the station that he could use instead of purchasing the specialty rope for $242.
Gallant told the chief there would be no need to do that as he would purchase the rope for the department himself.
"You'll have the rope you need," he told Carrier.
Ending the evening was a request to rewire Deputy Chief Robinson's new vehicle with the antenna, radio and siren from his previous vehicle. The commission approved the expenditure of a little more than $500 to outfit his new car with the equipment he already has available. Installation of the chief and deputy chief's vehicles has been a long standing courtesy to enable them to respond safely and quickly from home when necessary.