firefighter gear hanging on a wall

The Waitsfield Select Board issued a request for proposals this week for a contract to install a 1,000-gallon holding tank for water used to wash firefighters’ turnout gear.


By statute, firefighters’ turnout gear must be washed in specialty washers after interior fires to remove toxins they encounter while fighting fires. Those toxins remain in the wash water and must be stored in a tank until pumped out and taken to an appropriate disposal facility.  

Last year the fire department received a $7,500 grant for the laundry machinery. The department had previously been using other local fire department equipment to wash their gear and former fire chief Paul Hartshorn told those gathered at Town Meeting last Tuesday, that some firefighters washed their gear at home. 

At Town Meeting Hartshorn suggested that despite having the grant and a contractor ready to install the equipment, the town was dragging its feet on getting that work done. Waitsfield Select Board chair Christine Sullivan pushed back on that idea at Town Meeting and this week explained that the town wanted to ensure that a proper disposal system was in place for the wastewater from washing the contaminated gear. 

“That entails a holding tank and that required engineering a system for the tank which will get pumped once a year. It also needs to be inspected annually,” Sullivan said. 

Sullivan said that the cost estimate for the work is over $10,000 and said that the town had also spent money on engineering and design.  

The RFP that went out includes installation of the tank and laundry equipment although Sullivan noted that the town was likely to continue to use Grenier Engineering for inspection. She said there are only two organizations in the state that pump tanks with this type of waste and said the town would seek quotes from them. 

The new equipment can wash two sets of turnout gear at once and the wash water will also have to be segregated from any other wastewater at the fire station.