No troubled waters at Wareham Fire, Water District annual meeting

Apr 9, 2019

The Wareham Fire District Annual Meeting flew by on April 8 as all motions were passed with near-unanimous votes.

Safety upgrades for firefighters, hiring new call firefighters and a new fire prevention officer, and improved technology were all approved by voters.

“If you’ve seen anything on the news, you will notice that our firefighters are exposed to more things in the workplace and cancer is an ever-growing problem,” said Prudential Committee Chairman George Barrett. “This is just another step in trying to get them a safer work environment.”

Voters also funded the removal of asbestos pipe insulation at Station One on Main Street.

Firefighters can also expect upgraded safety equipment, including new wildlands protective clothing, which was overdue for an upgrade, along with a new command vehicle corrosion protection for current vehicles.

The district will be expanding, as voters funded new call firefighters and a full time fire prevention officer. Currently, the department only has one fire prevention officer to conduct inspections-- of which there are too many for one person to do alone.

During the Special District Meeting, voters funded the transformation of a five ton military grade truck, which was given to the district by the government at no cost, into a brush breaker.

The warrant articles were funded with “free cash,” meaning that the spending would have no impact on residents’ tax rates.

“We’re taking a lot of money out of free cash,” said district resident Sandy Slavin. “How much was available before this meeting, and how much will be taken from free cash to fund every one of these motions we’re seeing?”

A district official said that on July 1, the district had $677,294 in free cash. After funding the items approved at the meeting, the remaining balance would be around $63,000.  Free cash comes from a variety of sources including appropriations from the prior year’s budget that weren’t expended, unexpected revenues. The fund recently received a boost when a modernization act freed up funds.

The only warrant article that was not funded at the meeting was a proposal to use a portion of the principal forgiveness on a loan to purchase a chlorine pipe to better sterilize water. The warrant article could not be passed as written due to a misunderstanding about the structure of the loan.

Water District Superintendent Andew Reid said that the district plans to complete the work at some point. Reid said he hopes to bring the project forward again next year if the board is agreeable. The work on the project would likely be done by the department, rather than by contractors.

The District’s election will take place this Saturday.