Fire company needs new ‘jaws of life’

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First Selectman Susan Cable said she'd try to find a way to budget a Hurst tool for the fire department.

BEACON FALLS — If there is an accident in town, victims may have to wait a few extra minutes before rescuers can extract them from their car.

 

The fire department’s “jaws of life,” an extrication tool used to free victims from mangled cars, recently bit the dust. Until the town can scavenge up the cash to replace the portable Hurst tool on Engine One, the hose company will need to call in help from neighboring towns like Oxford and Seymour.

“It’s our only portable unit, so if a car goes over the river on Route 8, we have no way to get down there with the Hurst tool,” Fire Chief Michael Pratt said during the Board of Selectmen’s meeting Monday night.

Pratt said the tool would be needed for cases like a car that plummeted down Cook Lane three years ago and ended up going through a house and into the woods.

Pratt presented the Board of Selectmen with a quote for what it will cost to replace the equipment.

The total cost would be $25,850 to replace hoses, pump, cutters, spreaders, a power unit, and couplers that go on the end of the hoses. The figure is less than the $35,900 originally quoted because Pratt took off some items that don’t need to be replaced. Pratt said the equipment cannot be repaired because the manufacturer went out of business and the parts are no longer available.

The bill is in addition to $24,000 needed to repair an ambulance that is 13 years old. The hose company was hoping a new ambulance would be included in a referendum, but the item was dropped before it went to vote. The warranty on the ambulance ran out three years ago, making repairs very expensive, Pratt said.

With the town’s finances tight, First Selectman Susan Cable said it would be tough to come up with the money for the equipment.
“We had a very tight budget last year, and this year, contrary to popular opinion, is even tighter than ever, and we’re going to have a tough time, but we’ll see what we can do,” Cable said.

Pratt said he had about $7,000 left over in his physical line item, but it wouldn’t be enough to cover the costs. He said he had not yet looked at whether there may be any state grants available.

Selectman Michael Krenesky said the town might need to get the money out of next year’s budget.

Cable said she would look into whether there was grant money available through Homeland Security and bring the request to the Board of Finance.