Orange holding debt exclusion election for new Fire Department air packs

  • The Orange Fire Department christens its new Engine 2 in 2019. The town has scheduled a special debt exclusion election pertaining to new self-contained breathing apparatuses for the Fire Department. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Orange has scheduled a special debt exclusion election pertaining to new self-contained breathing apparatuses for the Fire Department, pictured. Staff File Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 7/20/2021 2:38:53 PM
Modified: 7/20/2021 2:38:58 PM

ORANGE — The town has scheduled a special debt exclusion election pertaining to new self-contained breathing apparatuses for the Orange Fire Department.

Voters will be asked if Orange will be allowed to exempt from Proposition 2½ provisions the cost of a bond to buy the equipment. Polls will be open at the Orange Armory at 135 East Main St. from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Aug. 23. Everyone entering the armory is asked to wear a mask, even if they are vaccinated.

James Young, who has been the Orange fire chief for six years, explained his department must replace its 25 breathing apparatuses and purchase an additional two. The cost would be $242,349.

“The current equipment we have was purchased in 2007 and there are components of that equipment that will be non-compliant with national standards come 2022,” he said, speaking by phone from his department’s secondary station on Millyard Road.

These breathing apparatuses are commonly referred to as air packs, which are tanks of compressed air equipped with a breathing mask to enable firefighters to breathe inside burning buildings. Young said the apparatuses need to be replaced every 15 years. The department currently has Scott Air-Paks and Young expects to remain with the same manufacturer.

The chief explained several of the department’s vehicles have been replaced with ones with more seated riding positions and the National Fire Protection Association requires an air pack for each of these spots. Young said his department has three fire engines, a ladder truck, a water tender to transport water to fire scenes, two ambulances and his command vehicle, which is an SUV.

Although the Fire Department is requesting the town’s financial support, Young said the department has applied for a grant to pay for the apparatuses’ replacement.

“If we were to receive that grant, there would be no cost to the town at all,” he said.

The chief plans to conduct some public outreach to explain the apparatuses’ importance to firefighter safety in advance of the Aug. 23 debt exclusion election. He said taxpayers have historically been accommodating to the needs of public safety.

“I know times are tough and finances can be tricky,” he added.

Voters are allowed to vote by mail or absentee ballot, and Aug. 18 is the final day to apply. They can visit the Orange Town Clerk’s Office or send a letter requesting the ballot be mailed to their home. Be sure to include your name and address and to state that you want it for the debt exclusion election. Once you receive the ballot, complete it and mail it back to Town Clerk Nancy Blackmer at 6 Prospect St., Orange, MA 01364. For more information, call Blackmer at 978-544-1100, ext. 101.

Absentee ballots may be used by any registered voter unable to vote at the polls the day of the election due to absence from town during normal polling hours, physical disability preventing them from going to the polling place or religious belief, according to a notice from Blackmer. Both vote-by-mail and absentee ballot requests must include the election’s date, the voter’s name, the address at which the voter is registered, and the address to which to mail the ballot. It must also be signed by the voter.

The Town Clerk’s Office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays (closed for lunch from 12:30 to 1 p.m.) and from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Wednesdays (closed for lunch from noon to 1 p.m.). Town Hall is currently closed to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Voter registration cards are available next to the red ballot dropbox outside Town Hall.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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