MILFORD — Several Milford volunteer firefighters attended the Monday evening, Feb. 10, Milford Town Council meeting to discuss the department’s urgent need for new air packs. According to Milford Fire Chief Todd Haines, the department’s current air packs, nearly 20 years old, are no longer compliant with state regulations.
New air packs, including masks and 46 air bottles will cost roughly $140,000.
The problem was first broached in October, when Brian Haines, fire chief at the time, informed the council of the situation and his efforts to obtain grants. The old air packs, he said, do not have automatic personal alert safety systems, PASS devices, which send out an alarm when the user does not move for a period of time. At Monday’s meeting, Todd Haines added the old air bottles, which do not fit the current standards, only contain 30 minutes of oxygen, compared to the new 45 minute bottles.
Furthermore, said Todd, new synthetics in building materials have led to highly toxic fires and greater risks for these volunteers. “We have to be very passionate about this as firemen.”
The department was able to obtain a $10,000 grant from Kosciusko County Community Foundation, leaving around $130,000 yet to raise. Council President Doug Ruch asked Van Buren Township Trustee Rebecca Alles, who was in attendance, if the township has funds to contribute; Milford’s volunteer fire department is funded primarily by both the town council and Van Buren Township Board.
Alles replied since 2015 the township has used a cumulative fund to purchase three vehicles: a tanker, a grass truck, and, in 2020, a pumper truck. The latter will cost $400,000, and the funds are already earmarked for that purpose. “That’s where my money is tied up now,” she said.
Nevertheless, Alles said there may be enough left after the purchase for the township to contribute half of the $130,000 tab in 2021.
Councilmember Ken Long suggested a purchasing plan for the 46 bottles be put in place, so when they hit their 15-year expiration date, “We’re not in a situation where we’re seeing this enormous cost all at once.”
Brian Haines said the department has until the end of 2020 to complete the project. Treasurer Tricia Gall suggested the council table the issue for March to further study how best to fund the purchase without asking the state for additional funding. The council agreed.
The following items were also addressed at the Feb. 10 meeting:
Robert Post Jr. was sworn in as a reserve officer. According to Chief Derek Kreider, Post has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience.
During street, water and park reports, Street Superintendent Steven Marquart reported another water main leak, this time at Syracuse and North Henry streets. The council approved $2,670 be paid to Beer and Slabaugh for the repair work.
The council approved $39,162.35 for the purchase of a 1-ton 2020 Chevrolet truck from McCormick Motors and a snowplow from Gardners Outdoor Power Equipment after hearing multiple quotes.
Bids were heard for 2020 spring paving projects. Phend and Brown’s bid of $208,443 was accepted. Seventy-five percent of the cost will come from a Community Crossing grant.
The council approved $5,000 to be paid to USI consultants to complete a road asset plan, the third since 2016. The plans are necessary for receiving Community Crossing grants, said Marquart.
A total of $7,332.54 was approved for the purchase of eight treatments of mosquito product for 2020. In addition, the town approved Todd Wisinger’s mosquito control training. If he receives two licenses, Wisinger will also receive a $1 raise in hourly pay.
During clerk reports, $650 was approved to implement REACH alerts in Milford. The program will enable subscribers to receive information via phone, text or email regarding trash delays, water issues, office closures and other municipal matters. The cost equals $1 for 650 households, which will go up to $2 in 2021 should the town continue with the program. A postcard will be sent to households with information on how to subscribe.
The council approved $807.11 to purchase a new laptop from MicroByte Enterprise to match upgraded computer systems at the town hall.
Gall asked for contact information for Milford Food Bank, which is $530 behind on its utility bill. The matter was tabled due to a possible donor.
The council passed a motion allowing an antique Milford Lions Club flag to be displayed in the community building.