Wareham Fire District approves new engine, nixes water tank maintenance

Jun 10, 2020

The Wareham Fire District held its annual meeting on Wednesday night with a drive-in twist. 

To allow voters to maintain social distancing, the meeting was held in the Wareham High School parking lot, and voters stayed in their cars for the duration of the meeting. WCTV provided a sound system so officials would be audible throughout the parking lot, and residents cast their votes by holding a green or red slip of paper out their car window or moon roof to indicate a yes or no vote.

The meeting’s agenda was somewhat abbreviated, as ten articles were passed over for a future meeting. 

The majority of the articles dealt with routine budgeting and business and passed unanimously. 

Several new pieces of equipment will be purchased, including a new command vehicle to replace one from 2008, and a new fire engine and aerial tower. The new engine and tower will be paid for in part by a grant, if approved. Voters approved spending $500,000 if the district obtains a grant for $1 million, which would cover the rest of the cost. The engine and tower would replace an engine from 1987, the oldest in the district, and a tower from 1985. 

Residents also approved spending a total of $350,000 to finish the construction of the Maple Springs Water Purification Plant. 

The warrant included three articles relating to the maintenance of the district’s water storage tanks. Two of the articles would allow the district to enter into and pay for a contract with a company that would maintain and paint the interior and exterior of the storage tanks for a total cost of just under $1.2 million. Another article would pay for the interior and exterior painting of the Bourne Hill tank for exactly $1.2 million. 

The first two maintenance related articles were originally included on a consent agenda to be passed over at the meeting, but were put back on the agenda at the request of a resident who pointed out that they seemed to offer more value at a lower price. 

Prudential Committee Chairman George Barrett moved for further study on the first two articles, saying that the district was still doing research on the idea, and added that the district was trying to avoid spending unnecessary money during the pandemic.

Both articles were moved to further study by voters.

The article proposing spending $1.2 million on maintenance for one tank was questioned by a voter who pointed out that it was very expensive, and said the district’s logic didn’t seem to make sense. 

Barrett said that the tank in question was in the most dire need of repair, and that furthermore, approving the warrant article did not necessarily mean that the work would get done. In fact, he said, voters could be asked to decide on the same project at the next district meeting.
That article failed with 33 no votes to 26 yes votes from the 67 voters in attendance. 

The Wareham Fire District’s Election will be held on Saturday, June 20, in the Wareham Water Department’s parking lot at 2550 Cranberry Highway from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Richard H. England, Jr. is seeking re-election to the Prudential Committee for a three year term and John B. English, III is seeking re-election to the Board of Water Commissioner’s for a three year term.  

The election will be “drive-up” to ensure safety. When arriving, remain in the car and look for signs directing voters to check-in.