Firefighter gear

After receiving only one bid to install an extractor tank at the Waitsfield-Fayston Volunteer Fire Station, the Waitsfield Select Board has reopened the bidding process.





The town received one bid to install the 1,000-gallon holding tank for water used to wash firefighters’ turnout gear. The bid was from Pioneer Mechanical for $79,000 and the town had estimated $20,000 to install the tank.

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.

At the select board’s April 15 meeting the board discussed the bid with fire chief Tripp Johnson. Town treasurer and grant administrator Randy Brittingham prepared a memo for the select board comparing the costs of installation and maintaining a tank compared to entering into a contract with Redline, a company that has mobile turnout gear washing trucks. Over a 12-year period, Brittingham estimated that the cost of the tank option might be $104,000 while the cost of using a company like Redline would be $79,200.

The board opted to try another RFP for the project in hopes that a local contractor might bid on the job. The Valley Reporter reached out to Redline to get a better understanding of how the cleaning process works from company owner and founder Mike Matros of Marlborough, Massachusetts, who is also a professional firefighter.





Matros, who now has offices throughout the country, explained how turnout gear is taken apart and cleaned in large extractors which are commercial washing machines that use heavy soaps and agents to clean the gear. His employees brush surface debris and contaminants from the gear before it is washed five times in the machines. Gear then goes into two static dryers and another tumble dryer.

The wastewater – which is what the fire department must contain in the proposed 1,000-gallon tank – goes through a system of eight filters that can be disposed of anywhere, Matros said.

“We have three different certifications that our wastewater is water, it’s just water and can go on the ground,” he said, noting that the filtration system removes PFAS and other forever chemicals.

The new bid for the tank installation will be open for two weeks.


In other select board action, the board appointed Larissa Ursprung to a vacant seat on the select board. Ursprung was among three candidates, including Erica Stroem and Stephen Gavosto. The vacancy was created when Jordan Gonda stepped down from her board seat at the beginning of the year. Ursprung will serve out the balance of Gonda’s term which runs until Town Meeting 2025.