Members of the Fayston and Waitsfield Select Boards met with Waitsfield-Fayston Volunteer Fire Department chief Tripp Johnson to discuss significant gear and equipment needs facing the department.
Johnson invited the board members to a meeting at the fire station in Waitsfield where he provided a detailed report on the state of the firehouse, maintenance concerns, equipment status and potential capital needs.
Very specifically, there are issues with the department’s uniform inventory for interior firefighting which need to be replenished as soon as possible. The department’s 29 air packs must be replaced as soon as possible as well. They are nearing the end of their 15-year life cycle and cost $4,500 per bottle. This issue was also raised at Town Meeting in March.
Beyond equipment, maintenance of the fire station is needed including addressing stormwater drainage issues, garage door openers, water damage inside the building and the new heating and insulation elements. Firefighter Owen Wimble explained work thus far on the cost and efficacy of replacing the utility van with a new piece of equipment rather than refurbishing the existing van.
To meet these needs, plus other needs of the physical plant, both member towns will need to increase their capital budgets for the next five to 10 years, although there may be some opportunities for grants.
Firefighters and board members discussed the issue of radio service in The Valley for all fire departments as well as road departments. Both select boards will consider seeking an expert in telecommunications and emergency services to assess the existing networks and make a recommendation.
Additionally, the boards agreed to a timeline for developing the 2020 fire budget and discussing the capital improvement needs.