August 18, 2019

Lincoln won’t wait to replace Jaws of Life

LINCOLN – The Town Council won’t wait for a Fire Department fundraiser to collect enough money to buy another Jaws of Life unit.

Councilors informally agreed during a meeting Monday to allow Town Manager Glenn Aho and Fire and Police Chief Phil Dawson to get cost estimates to replace the town’s rescue tool.

Councilors appreciated firefighters’ efforts, which as of Aug. 1 had raised about $4,200, but said the tool was too important a lifesaving device to leave to a fundraiser that might take several months.

“If we have a need for a new Jaws of Life, we should pay for it,” said Councilor Bruce Albert, who led the push for a new unit. “If my family were, God forbid, trapped in a vehicle tomorrow, I wouldn’t want them to have to wait for firefighters from Howland or Lee to arrive to be rescued.”

“I agree with Bruce entirely that this is necessary,” Councilor Thora House said.

The hydraulic rescue tool is used by rescue workers to cut crash victims from vehicles as well as other small spaces. These tools include cutters, spreaders and rams. The well-known tool is popularly referred to as Jaws of Life, a trademark of Hale Products Inc.

Albert made a motion that the council appropriate $10,000 to buy one, but councilors voted it down 6-0 when Aho suggested getting estimates and Dawson said the tool might cost as much as $20,000.

Depending on the extras included with the tool, which could include inflatable bags, the tool could cost $15,000 to $20,000, Dawson said.

The Fire Department’s hydraulic rescue unit is working fine, but it is at least 20 years old, could break down at any time and is ancient enough that its manufacturer no longer makes spare or replacement parts, Dawson said.

He and Aho elected not to request one in the Fire Department’s 2007-08 budget, saying they had to draw a line somewhere. Dawson said that Howland’s Volunteer Fire Department had just bought a new Jaws and that firefighters would not lose any great amount of time waiting for it to be dispatched from Howland or Lee to a Lincoln emergency.

“You have to do a lot of prep work [on a vehicle] before you can use one,” Dawson said.

Dawson and Aho hope to have a purchase proposal ready for the council at its September meeting. The purchase should occur within 30 days of that.

The Fire Department call company’s fundraiser also seeks money for a semi-rigid inflatable hull rescue boat with a 25-horsepower engine for about $15,000. The boat would be used for water rescues and safety and fire suppression in situations involving coastline or water-based fires. The department currently lacks a boat.

Letters seeking contributions went out to residents and area businesses on Aug. 16.

Contributions may be mailed to: Town of Lincoln, 63 Main St., Lincoln 04457.

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