March 23–PERU — Selectman Raquel Welch told the board Monday evening that she wanted to speak with the fire chief about firefighters washing their personal vehicles at the Fire Station.
Welch said when she drives past the station on nice days, she sees people washing their private vehicles.
“It’s not a car wash,” she said. “People can’t just pull up there and say that they want to wash their cars. I don’t think that should be a privilege.”
Selectman Larry Snowman said the only people he sees washing their vehicles at the station are volunteer firefighters, deputies with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, Maine State Police troopers and ambulance personnel.
“Business vehicles, I don’t mind,” Welch told Snowman. “It’s the private vehicles. It just bugs me.”
Chairwoman Carol Roach said she’s read about other towns discussing the same issue and it “hasn’t been resolved.”
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“There’s a split throughout the state on whether firefighters should be allowed to do it,” Roach said.
She told the board she’s spoken with Fire Chief Bill Hussey before about the issue, and while she didn’t want to speak for him at the meeting, she said he’s “indicated in the past that it’s a small thing to offer for the work that the firefighters in town do.”
She added, “He told me that the firefighters put their lives on the line for little or no benefit, and letting them go in and use the internet or wash their vehicle is a benefit he wants to be able to offer individuals applying to Peru. I’ll say no more, because I’m only parroting what he said.”
Snowman said he didn’t have an issue with firefighters washing their personal vehicles.
“They have to go through a lot of training as volunteer firefighters, and they get paid very little for what they do,” he said. “I’m not bothered by it.”
Roach asked Welch if she wanted to make a motion on the issue.
“I don’t know,” Welch said. “I don’t want to make a big argument out of this. It just bugs me.”
She said when she was running for selectman, people asked her if she could do something about the issue.
“People are seeing it and thinking about it,” she said.
Welch agreed to speak with Hussey and get his opinion.
In other business, Welch suggested that Hussey and Road Commissioner Lee Merrill draft a list of each department’s major equipment and the age of each piece so the town can “figure out when they need to be repaired or replaced.”
Roach grinned at Welch’s request, clapped her hands, and said, “Yes!”
Welch asked the board what amount of money they thought constituted “major” equipment.
“I was thinking anything that would cost a significant amount of money to replace should be included,” she said.
Roach said the town has a policy that requires department heads to ask for board approval before buying anything that costs over $2,000.
“I would think that’s a starting place,” Roach said. “Other towns I’ve looked at start at $5,000, so I don’t think $5,000 is necessarily unreasonable.”
Don Roach clarified that Hussey and Merrill should list anything that would cost at least $2,000 to replace, not something that the town paid $2,000 for originally.
“We don’t want the value of the equipment now,” Roach said. “We want to look at what it’ll cost to replace.”
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