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Fire Chief answers questions about department practices


February 25, 2010
TUFTONBORO — And the winner of the Tuftonboro Fire Department's 1999 Chevy Suburban is…. Ethan Hipple. His bid of $2,251 topped a field of nine offers, opened at the Feb. 22 selectmen's meeting.

Hipple previously won the 2009 bid for the police department's 1999 Crown Victoria, which he said he used and then eventually cleaned up and sold for a small profit. Fire Chief Adam Thompson reports that the department is 13 calls ahead of last year at this time, with a total of 45 so far. The department responded to two major chimney fires, one of which resulted in $21,000 of damage.

He also noted that the State Fire Marshall's office had sent a letter to the department warning that a company selling and installing propane generators throughout the state, around 200 so far, has been cited in a recent spot check for four code violations. The Marshall said that the spot checks are in response to the number of problems reported to his office. Thompson asks that residents call his department for final inspection of any installation.

In answer to queries from residents, passed along to the Board of Selectmen's Chairman Dan Duffy, Thompson explained that the station doors are left open at the Melvin Village station when vehicles are being washed because they are brought in and out of the station during the cleaning, and noted also that the heat is turned off at the time. It also brings in some occasional fresh air.

As to why members of the department are allowed to wash their private vehicles, Thompson said they do not receive mileage reimbursement when they respond to emergencies in their own vehicles and that they are also often asked to do other things, such as wash other vehicles at the station while they are there. He said it also is good to have members of the department at the station, for it can reduce response time if a call comes in. "It's a small incentive," said Thompson for the service they perform.

Someone had also inquired as to why the department has been seen blowing sand off the parking lot. Thompson noted that the floor drains in the building are sealed off, so the sand tracked in to the station has to be blown out to the parking lot, and he doesn't want to leave it all to collect until spring.

Thompson also asked for and received approval from the board to accept a proposed $14,000 from the Firefighters Association to update the department's extrication equipment.

In response to a question from Joe Kowalski asking whether all public buildings in town have carbon monoxide detectors, Thompson replied no, but said that as of Jan. 1 any new construction must have hardwired smoke and carbon monoxide detection systems. All rental properties, new or existing, must have both.

Road Agent report

Road Agent Jim Bean said that the upper section of Phineas Graves Road, which was narrow, soft, and poorly drained, now has clean culverts for better drainage and has been widened to permit passage of two cars at a time.

In regard to equipment, Bean reported that he traded two old sanders that had not been used for seven years for a new one. Unfortunately, the wood chipper's motor had to be rebuilt.

In addition to cutting down dead trees along roadsides as preventative maintenance, the crew has filled the sand and salt bins and built a set of doors for the chipper shed.

Energy Project Assistant Brittany Phelps, representing the NH Municipal Energy Assistance Program (made possible by the NH Public Utilities Commission and the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions Fund), came to the meeting to give a timeline for collecting data on Tuftonboro's energy usage. The purpose is to establish a benchmark of energy used by town buildings and vehicles in order to assist in prioritizing energy reduction projects. The town successfully applied to participate in the program last fall, and Phelps' visit marks the beginning of Tuftonboro's effort to reduce its energy costs in an orderly and efficient manner.

Selectman Carolyn Sundquist noted that the board has taken some "baby steps" already, giving as example, there is money allocated in the 2010 budget for a wind energy data logger at the transfer station and new blinds in the town offices to control heat loss in the winter and heat entry in the summer.

Selectmen's updates

Sundquist followed up on her meeting with the Conservation Commission and the Land Bank of Wolfeboro -Tuftonboro to discuss the possibility of conservation easements at Great Meadows, a 500-acre parcel, 175 of which are town land. The groups agreed that the easements are important, and the first step is for the town to develop an easement on its property.

She also reminded boat owners that if they register their boats at the Melvin Village and Land's End marinas in town, the town will receive the fees. Fees from boat registrations sent to the state, go to the state.

Sundquist expressed disappointment that after two requests to meet to discuss the state's school funding issues, only two of the town's four representatives to the state house, Betsey Patten of Moultonboro and Dave Knox, of Wolfeboro responded.

The Senior Meals program is offering meals and activities for seniors, age 60 and up, at All Saints Episcopal Church in Wolfeboro on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 10 to 2. For more information, call Mimi Lisbon at 569-4933.

The board of selectmen is scheduled to meet on March 1 at 7 p.m. at the town office building.

Candidate's Night will be held on Tuesday, March 2, at the Tuftonboro Central School at 7 p.m.

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