Fire dept. forced to ‘stand down’ due to outdated gear
Officials said the town will rely on mutual aid until the personal protective equipment is brought into compliance with national standards
By Dennis Hoey
Portland Press Herald
LIMINGTON, Maine — Limington’s Board of Selectmen has ordered its volunteer fire department to “stand down until further notice” while the town tries to bring its firefighting protective gear into compliance with national standards.
Selectmen said in a statement released Sunday that the town’s emergency rescue crews will continue to respond to all medical emergency calls during the stand-down, which is expected to last a few days, but in the meantime the town will rely on mutual aid from neighboring fire departments if a structure fire should break out.
“The priority of the selectmen is to insure the health and safety of all employees and residents of the town. Continued swift action by the selectmen and the leadership of the fire department will result in the lifting of the order to stand down within a few days,” selectmen said in the statement.
Selectmen Bruce Rozett, Jeff Amatrudo and Emil Braley could not be reached for further comment Sunday night.
The selectmen’s written statement was forwarded Sunday to the Press Herald by York County Sheriff William L. King Jr., who advised town leaders to get the word out. King said he believes that the selectmen issued the stand-down order Friday.
According to their statement, the selectmen learned recently that the fire gear issued to volunteer firefighters in Limington exceeded the “mandatory retirement age” of 10 years – from the date of manufacture – set by the National Fire Protection Association. The national standard applies to jackets, pants, helmets and boots worn by firefighters.
“This requirement is meant to reduce the safety and health risks associated with poorly maintained, contaminated or damaged protective elements used by firefighters,” the selectmen said. “Without adequate protective gear, the Limington Fire Department was ordered to stand down until further notice.”
Selectmen said they have contacted fire chiefs in surrounding communities to make sure there will be a mutual aid response in the event of a fire.
They also contacted the Maine State Police dispatch center in Gray to ensure that if a fire does break out, dispatchers will immediately contact the nearest fire department for aid. Selectmen have also begun locating and costing out replacement firefighting gear.
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