Maine firefighters to trade air bottles

Department to trade four new air bottles intended to be part of a mobile cascade air system for a rapid intervention team pack that holds 60 minutes of air

By Donna M. Perry
The Sun Journal

JAY, Maine — Selectmen voted Monday to allow the Fire Rescue Department to trade four new air bottles that were intended to be part of a mobile cascade air system, for a rapid intervention team pack that holds 60 minutes of air.

The difference between the two is about $900, which the department would lose in the trade.

The bottles were bought for $4,400, $1,100 a piece, Public Safety Director Larry White Sr. said.

They were ordered before he came on board.

The mobile cascade system would let firefighters fill air bottles for self-breathing apparatus while at a fire.

However, it is estimated that it would cost about $10,000 more to put a mobile system together on a truck to make it work, Assistant Chief Mike Booker said.

Mutual aid departments do have mobile cascade systems and they bring those trucks to fires, White said.

Even though the cylinders have never been opened and are still wrapped in plastic, they are considered used, he said. One company wanted to give them $100 a bottle.

White said he did get an e-mail from one former officer/chief who opposed not having a mobile system due to having the paper mill.

The mill has its own cascade system on site and the towns of Livermore Falls, Wilton and Farmington already bring their mobile cascade units to mutual aid fires that require them, Booker said. Mexico has a system on a trailer that could be used to fill bottles, he said.

The department already has more than enough air bottles for each of the firefighters trained to use them including a spare bottle, he said.

Those bottles hold 20 to 30 minutes of air.

The rapid intervention team pack — a bottle and backpack — are really only used when a firefighter is down, Booker said.

This type of bottle has about 60 minutes of air and lets a firefighter go in and help another firefighter who is injured or trapped, Capt. Justin Merrill said.

The Casco Fire Department is interested in the bottles Jay has and in return, they would buy Jay a rapid intervention team pack, Merrill said. It cost about $3,500 and the town would lose about $900 on the deal, he said.

It is "one brand new RIT pack for the system we can't use," select board Chairman Steve McCourt said.

Selectmen approved the request.

White also informed the board that there is a leak in the roof at Station 2, the one located across from the former town office. He is looking to patch it, he said.

"I do need to fix it at least where it is leaking," he said. There is no money in the budget to put on a new roof, with the exception of about $20,000 in the capital improvement account.

Selectman Tom Goding, a contractor, pushed his chair away from the table, said he went up and looked at the roof.

From what he could see, the shingles are 15 to 16 years old and it looks like they were put on over another layer of shingles, he said. That section of roof has multiple cracks in the shingles where the water runs, Goding said. The other side has cracks but not as many as the leaking side.

He recommended that the old shingles be torn off, and a metal roof be installed, he said. If needed, one side could be done now and the other side at a later time, he said.

Concerned about the cost of a temporary patch and how long the project would be delayed if it went out to bid, selectmen directed White get some specifications ready and get some quotes to bring to the next meeting on March 28.

Republished with permission from The Sun Journal.

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