Fire Services Committee Minutes

From the desk of Heidi Sagar


Fire Services Study Committee

May 17, 2018 Meeting Minutes

Committee members present:

Michael Ball, Douglas Erb, Kathy Parsons, Richard Sagar, Bruce Ulricson.

There were 7 people in the audience.

Meeting opened at 6:00 pm.

  1. Doug read Warrant Article 5, as amended at Town Meeting. He reiterated that this   committee is a fact-finding, not a decision-making entity.
  1. The Draft Minutes of the previous meeting were reviewed. There was one spelling   correction.  Mike moved and   Richard seconded to accept the previous meeting’s minutes as corrected.  Passed on an unanimous vote.
  1. As requested, Jason Cartwright presented detailed records of Fire Dept. expenditures for the  past 3 years.

Michael Ransmeier, who stated that his attendance was as private citizen and not as a  selectman, was asked about progress regarding financial records requested from the  Select Board.  He said that the Selectmen’s office had been unusually busy, but that    the expenditure data would be forthcoming.  He provided the Committee with a                  comparison of FD expenses of Landaff and Lyman for the period 2011 to 2017.                     Michael Ransmeier further stated that Lisbon Selectman Scott Champagne had               indicated that any contract with Landaff would be a proportional allocation of operating   expenses based upon population.  He likened it to the arrangement that the three towns  have for the transfer station.  He said that Landaff is assessed about 16% of transfer   station expenses.  There was an extended discussion, and some disagreement    regarding the differences between the two situations.  Doug stated that the present            agreement between Lyman and Lisbon for FD services is much different from the            cooperative agreement for the transfer station.  Doug suggested that if the Select Board    is supportive of a cooperative department, the committee would be interested in more      information.  Michael Ransmeier said that the contract proposed at the 2018 Landaff        Town Meeting was a base charge of $11,288, based upon population, with additional        per call charges for vehicles and manpower.  He also stated that this proposal has            lapsed and is no longer relevant.

  1. Doug had done preliminary research into the impact on insurance rates, in the event that Landaff choses to contract with Lisbon’s fire department for services.  He read a letter from his own insurance agency.  The letter stated in part, “It can get pretty  complex.  ISO (Insurance Service Office) determines a rating for every fire department  ranging from 10-1, with 1 being the best and 10 being the worst.  The insurance companies have their own individual rates for different ratings.  Some towns have  multiple ratings.”   The letter mentioned various factors used to determine ratings, including distance from a fire station, presence of, or lack of, hydrants.  While ISO has certain rules (Public Protection Classification), insurance companies are free to set their  own requirements.

Doug asked members of the Committee, as well as other citizens, to request letters    from their insurance companies regarding any possible impacts on rates if we switch to  Lisbon.  Susan Stanley stated she had already requested a letter.  Doug suggested that  citizens could share any responses, so that those opinions could be considered by the       committee.  Doug also provided several pages of information on ISO.

Michael Ransmeier stated that Landaff has only 17 1/2 miles of roads, and that almost  all houses are within 5 miles of the Lisbon fire station.

Jason shared as an organization who reached out to him to update  their survey on the LVFD.  He mentioned that the agency indicated that Landaff was  rated a 9, and 10 is the worse rating.  His understanding was that to get to an 8,          Landaff would need to have hydrants and other things not really available to Landaff, so  the highest rating we will achieve is a 9.  He also felt that without a department and the    equipment Landaff would be rated a 10.  It was unclear if this would have any impact      on insurance rates, given that most of the dwellings are within 5 miles of the Lisbon          station.  Jason stated that the rating, although it includes the FD, is a rating for the              town.

  1. Kathy reported that she had contacted the Lyman select board, and was informed that the Committee is welcome to meet with the board.  They meet every two weeks on Mondays at 6:00 pm.  A date of June 4 was suggested, but, due to scheduling           conflicts, she will try to arrange a meeting for June 18.
  2. Bruce has contacted Max Schultz at the N.H. Dept. of Safety. Max recommended         contacting the combined Tilton/ Northfield FD.  He regards this as the best                    example of two towns who have regionalized.  He mentioned Primex Insurance as a good source of information.  Michael Ransmeier indicated that Primex provides     insurance for Landaff.  The Tilton/ Northfield FD has a rating of 3 out of 10.  They look at         the equipment, key training required, and certification.  Training and certification is not  required, but is preferred.  He mentioned different types of tankers and engines that can  respond as a factor; multiple units helps with rating.  They have career fire fighters and  retention was an issue.  They pay firefighters $11 per hour.  Officers, and those that are  certified, receive $20-22 per hour.

If a volunteer who is not certified is injured, Primex will review training records.   Combining resources can result in increased efficiencies.  Saving money in the                 long runs depends on a lot of issues.  There will be savings, but not necessarily                   significant amounts.  Water sources are another factor of insurance.  Each town               develops their own budget and then reconciles them for the final FD budget.  A tax on     each house, such as $50, to help fund the FD has been considered, but is not presently     used.  Bruce said the FD was open to a visit with the committee.  Doug was concerned   that we should be visiting towns that were closer in size to Landaff.  He suggested that we get the town reports.  Bruce suggested a visit, and the committee authorized him to   proceed.  It was agreed that Bruce, Kathy and Richard would try to visit with the                Tilton/ Northfield FD in the next two weeks.  They will report back to the committee

  1. Richard has located a contact number for the Saco Valley Fire Association. He            will call them.  Questions include:  how the association provides coverage for the three towns, how long has it been in existence, how affective it has been, and would they let committee members visit?
  2. Jason provided detailed information on Landaff call cards and explained their function. They provide guidance for a wide variety of call types and indicate which departments  will respond.  They also specify the equipment required, back-up coverage of stations,  available water drafting locations, and detailed directions.
  3. Richard suggested that we presently have a form or regionalism in the Twin State Mutual Aid Association.  Kathy responded that we would continue to receive the         benefits of the association under a contract with Lisbon.  She said that the Twin State  bylaws would provide coverage to Landaff as an associate town.  Doug pointed out that Twin State is presently reviewing their bylaws and rules, and that we would have to  await their outcome.  Pat Webb, who is the LVFD representative to Twin State, stated  that he will attend their meeting next week and try to ascertain the status of their  committee which is considering those changes.

There was a general discussion of Mutual Aid Associations.  Doug explained that they were initially driven by dispatch needs, and later evolved into training and other     services.  Twin State has 29 supporting departments.

  1. The committee asked Jason for an update on the requested training records for the LVFD.  He is still in the process of assembling that information.  He will provide records  for both in-house and outside training, as well as any other documentation in the  LVFD records.
  2. Next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 31, at 6:00 pm.

Meeting adjourned at 7:35 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Heidi Sagar






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