By Tracy F. Seelye, Express staff
HANSON — The Police and Fire departments are seeking a combined $341,150 in budget transfers at the October special Town Meeting to fund upgrades in technology, equipment, uniform needs and a vehicle to better serve the town’s public safety needs.
Four warrant articles proposed by Police Chief Michael Miksch and three proposed by Fire Chief Jerome Thompson Jr., were placed on the warrant by unanimous votes of 4-0 during the Tuesday, Aug. 26 Board of Selectmen’s meeting. Votes on warrant article recommendations have not yet been made as firm dollar amounts were not yet available for some of the warrant’s 40 articles, but selectmen voiced some support for the public safety requests.
“We have plenty of time, we might as well wait for more concrete numbers,” said Town Administrator Ron San Angelo.
Selectman Bruce Young was absent due to illness.
The board meets at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 9 — the late start due to poll hours for the state primary election.
Miksch’s requests include $17,750 to replace at least five desktop computers and a network switch as well as the purchase of backup services, hardware and software; $4,400 for protective and safety clothing; $4,500 to tire deflation devices such as Stop Sticks and $11,000 for new AR-based patrol rifles compatible with academy training weapons.
Thompson is requesting $16,000 for upgrades and maintenance at the Main Street Fire Station; $240,000 from the ambulance account to purchase and equip a mini-pumper truck and $36,500 for protective clothing.
The police computers and hardware in question are outdated.
“When the Police Station was completed, they all got new computers — that’s a good thing — the bad thing is they all got old at the same time,” San Angelo said. “All of these items from free cash are going to have to be evaluated and prioritized, but this is another one of those ‘wish-list items’ that make sense.”
Miksch is working to develop a plan to replace them on a staggered basis, but he said the network switch and data backup are needed now.
The Stop Sticks are needed in view of recent pursuit incidents in the region, including one last year that began with a Brockton armed robbery, skirted Hanson and ended with shots fired on Route 27 in East Bridgewater on the Brockton line.
“In this case they attempted to deploy the Stop Sticks, but I think if there were more units with those available they could have brought that to an end sooner and, hopefully more peacefully than it ended,” Miksch said. “Chases aren’t as common as they used to be, but given our proximity where we’ve got some major roadways that somebody’s going to use … I think it’s short money.”
The rifles would make Hanson’s department more consistent with training and surrounding communities.
Selectman Chairman David Soper asked how often rifles are used, when do they become outdated and why the old ones can’t be adapted.
Miksch said the current rifles (mini 14s), while good weapons, have not been used much due to training compatibility and cruiser storage issues and optics require a special kit to attach them.
“The continuum on training with the AR-style rifles, where so many other departments have them, makes the training a bit easier … plus a lot of the young folks that are coming on have military experience and are extremely familiar with the AR-style rifle,” said Selectman Bill Scott, a retired police chief.
A mini-pumper truck sought by the Fire Department would reduce stress on, and extend the life of, larger vehicles. Two engines, on the capital plan for replacement could be used for another three to four years with the purchase of a mini-pumper, according to Thompson.
“It’s a smaller apparatus that we could use for ambulance calls and calls that aren’t actually building fires,” Thompson said. “We have the funds we’re able to use this year as well as the funds to put toward operational costs over time.”
The maintenance article for the Main Street Fire Station would pay for replacement windows to reduce energy costs on the building, which is more than 100 years old, Thompson said. The uniform article replaces turnout gear that are nearing the point where they would not be sanctioned by the National Fire Protection Association and, unless replaced, Hanson firefighters without new gear would not be permitted to take part in live fire training.
Other public safety articles — sought by the Highway Department — deal with funds to purchase supplies for grading private ways; to pay for street sweeping to support that budget in the wake of last winter’s heavy snowfall, to remove the existing damaged danger sign on Route 27/Franklin Street with an LED sign and to continue drainage work.
Articles proposed by the library director and director of elder affairs are aimed at replacing defective windows and for a needs assessment for redesigning the roof of the building the agencies share.
“As many people know, the roof continues to leak even though they have tried to patch it and do different repairs,” San Angelo said. A facilities management report has pointed to a design flaw is the cause for the problem which is centered in the library side of the building.
The windows are estimated to cost $5,200.
“I think it’s time to do all the windows at once and fix that issue,” San Angelo said.