Alna selectmen

Trask: Proposed fed changes could ‘decimate’ volunteer firefighting

Fri, 05/03/2024 - 8:45am

Proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration changes would increase requirements for training, equipment and more, and cost Alna more for firefighting, Fire Chief Mike Trask told selectmen April 25. He said the changes could decimate volunteer firefighting in Maine and across the nation.

Among the changes Trask described would be to replace a fire truck after 20 years regardless of its condition; have firefighters attend a gym; and have a decontamination facility at the fire station. 

“It’ll be the end of the Alna Volunteer Fire Department, basically,” its president, Beth Whitney, said of the proposed changes. “I don’t know what you’re going to do for fire coverage after that.”

Trask said without the local department, the town would contract with someone, because the state requires fire coverage, but he said not to count on a neighboring town, because they all would be facing the same issue. He predicted the contract would be with Bath or a regional fire service.

Trask said the department is drafting a letter to OSHA. He and Whitney encouraged fellow residents to contact state and federal lawmakers. Tell them the proposal is ridiculous, Trask said. “The more feedback they get, the better,” Whitney said.

According to osha.gov, the proposal seeks “to ensure that workers involved in Emergency Response activities get the protections they deserve from the hazards they are likely to encounter ...” The website states the agency seeks input on – and will share with states – “alternatives and potential exclusions for economically at-risk vulnerable and small volunteer organizations.”

Also April 25, selectmen decided to use Massachusetts-based EBI Consulting for an environmental assessment in connection with the Egypt Road bridge project, for $12,550; and the board kept Toby Stockford for mowing, for $5,800. 

The board also honed plans for a committee to work on the mining and blasting ordinance that lost at town meeting in March. A May 1 town email said the board on April 25 adopted a resolution stating the committee would review and revise the document to create “one or more ordinances that reflect a balance of the interests of the town and pit owners”; the committee would give the planning board the revised document by June 30; and the board would review it and get it to the selectboard to approve for a special town meeting. 

The committee will have two planning board members, a selectman, a Crooker Construction representative, two owners of small pits and three community members at large, the email said. To be considered for the committee, email alnaclerk@gmail.com or deliver a response to the town office by May 8, the email stated. The selectboard’s May 9 agenda, emailed May 2, lists that committee, plus town office trash and recycling removal, landscaping, and a copier contract; American Rescue Plan Act funding; “corrective measures for graffiti at Pinkham Pond”; and a work session. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the town office and https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88969670493