Weston board tables OK for Fire Dept. airpacks, seeking financing data

By Bruce Frauman
©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Christine Falango discusses the need for new air packs for the Weston Fire Department. Photos by Bruce Frauman.

The Weston Select Board on April 9 tabled a decision on purchasing eight airpacks for the Weston Volunteer Fire Department until more information could be gathered about financing options.

Christine Falango represented the Weston Fire Department in requesting funds to replace airpacks at a total cost of $60,000 to $70,000. She said the Fire Department has $25,000 set aside for the packs, and that certain issues would prevent the department from getting grants.

Board chair Dennis Benson said that four of the current packs cannot be refilled after July 31 and four others cannot be refilled after Dec. 31. However, he added, they can be used after those dates. The airpack includes the mask, regulator, back strap and air tank.

Benson said if all eight packs are bought at the same time, the air tanks will be interchangeable. He added that delivery is expected 55 working days after the order is placed. He suggested that since the Fire Department has a spending limit of $50,000, the Select Board could buy the air packs and lease them to the department “to keep their budget numbers from spiking up and down.”

The tanks would be ordered in July, Falango said.

Falanago said she, personally, is not comfortable having the department spend money for the airpacks until after voters can approve the Fire Department budget at Town Meeting.

Donald Hart suggested creating a regional municipal fire department to serve several towns.

Falango said that while they have other quotes, Ryan Hart, who represents one supplier, was expected to have attended this meeting to talk about financing options. Board vice chair Jim Linville pointed out there is a possible conflict of interest since Hart is also on the Fire Department. The spending issue may be brought up again at the May 2 Select Board meeting.

Donald Hart sparked a discussion on the possibility of creating a municipal fire department  since it is difficult staffing a volunteer fire department Benson said this a problem throughout the Northeast and that it does not help that volunteers are faced with 120 to 240 hours of training before they are even sure they want to continue.

Linville suggested the possibility of a regional fire department covering the towns of Weston, Andover, South Londonderry, Londonderry and Ludlow. If paid firefighters are ready to go, he said, the extra 15 minutes in travel time would be the same as waiting for volunteers to arrive at a station in the first place. Benson said it was something to think about.

Road crew catching up on equipment maintenance

Almon Crandall explains maintenance work on town equipment.

Road Foreman Almon Crandall said the road crew has been catching up on back maintenance on equipment during the rainy period. He also said one truck required 10 to 12 hours of labor by a contractor to pull out the dashboard to repair a broken ground wire for lights.

Treasurer Kim Seymour asked for and received permission to borrow $400,000 to “get through the summer.” She will write a tax anticipation note to borrow from the town’s special funds at a 1 percent interest rate to be paid back on or before Oct. 9.

Seymour also said Board Administrator Cheryl Barker’s computer needed to be replaced as well as a server. She said the town’s IT consultant thought a power surge may have blown out Barker’s computer and continued through a cable to the server. Seymour said all computers are now connected through surge protectors.

Linville said he was asked informally by the town moderator of Andover manager of Andover, Jeanette Haight, if Weston would like to “go in” on the purchase of a used $100,000 gooseneck mower.

Linville said he thought the town was happy with hiring an outfit that mows for the town in between mowing for the state. Board member Charles Goodwin asked if they could get the outfit to mow twice to help curtail the spread of poison parsnip. Crandall said that was not likely.

In other business:

The board approved a Better Back Roads Grant. Benson said the work will be done in 2019 to do an inventory of some roads. Crandall said the work will help the town be “more compliant with storm water runoff.”
The board made several appointments to town boards and organizations:

  • Peter Erickson will be Green Up Day coordinator;
  • Ray Mara will continue as Tree Warden, if he accepts the appointment;
  • Ann Fuji’i will continue to serve on the Conservation Commission and the Zoning Board of Adjustment;
  • David Russo and Matthew Lynch will serve on the Planning Commission.

The board approved the closing of Park Street on May 25 for a fair put on by the Community Association.

Finally, the Select Board voted to go into executive session to discuss personnel matters, though this was not on the agenda or proposed at the beginning of the meeting. Benson said there would be no decisions made afterward.

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