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Fire coverage contract discussion
MEXICO -- Selectmen here will host a meeting with the Byron Board of Selectmen to discuss a possible contract to provide fire coverage for Byron.
The meeting will be held in the Calvin Lyons Room at the Mexico Town Hall at 5:30 on Tuesday, Dec. 28.
Town Manager John Madigan said he has discussed the possibility of his town providing coverage for Byron with the Maine Municipal Association, and a town can contract with another town, but any agreement must be approved by the town's lawyer. Prior to the joint meeting of the two boards, Madigan also plans to talk with other towns that may contract fire services.
Fire Chief Gary Wentzell said one idea proposed is for Byron to contract with Mexico and/or Roxbury for 10 years. He said the cost will be zero in exchange for use of Byron's fire tanker truck, purchased new in 2005 from a grant from Department of Homeland Security. The cost without the truck would be between $5,000 and $7,000 per year.
Regarding Byron's fire truck, Madigan said FEMA's only concern with the truck is that in an agreement that it continues to be used as a fire truck.
Wentzell said one of the concerns Byron selectmen have is what happens after the length of a contract, if it's 10 years. "What happens next, if the truck is out of the picture? Then what will the cost be? Or if the number of calls increases."
In the meantime, the Mexico Fire Department is automatically called out for any Byron emergency.
He said the distance between the Mexico and Byron fire stations is 13.6 miles. The departure on a call would be almost immediate and normal driving would take about 17 minutes.
Over the last five years, Byron has averaged 12 calls a year. "There's an ATV corridor through there.
Half of those calls are ATV or snowmobile calls that we go to anyway with our rescue sled."
Madigan said residents of both towns must approve any resulting fire coverage contract at special town meetings or, in Mexico's case, wait for the annual town meeting in June.
Wentzell said they had a training exercise on Sunday on Howard Street before burning down a residence owned by Mike Mann. They had perfect conditions for the burn. Also participating were Rumford and Dixfield firefighters, as well as junior firefighters. This residence was also the site for three other training exercises in October and November.
Another training exercise was taking place during the meeting as firefighters were practicing how to handle car fires at Dupuis.
The fire chief said his department has between 36 and 38 firefighters. His goal is to increase that number to between 40 and 42 firefighters.
Wentzell said the department has acquired a 400-gallon water tank from the Maine Forest Service, which is in good shape. Called a water buffalo, it will be retrofitted to be used as a portable pump that can be hauled with a utility truck to be used for things like woods fires.
The water buffalo, which has six spickets, could also serve as a drinking water source and hauled to an area that has lost its water supply.
In going over the monthly budget review, Madigan noted that the police repair budget is already $334 over budget, and that deficit is sure to increase.
He said that a new transmission needed for the Crown Victoria represents about half of the repair budget.
In the report about general assistance, Madigan announced that surprisingly, the expenditure to date is about $4,000 less than at this time last year.
Selectmen voted to accept the 2009-10 annual audit report. Madigan said the results demonstrate that "the town is healthy and financially in good shape