November 20, 2008
Fire Department gets $38,000 grant
By STEPHEN BEALE
Next to their protective, fireresistant clothing, the oxygen bottle that allows firefighters to breathe amid smoke and flames might be one of the most important pieces of equipment they use.
Goffstown Fire Chief Rich O’Brien announced this week that the department has received a $38,000 federal grant that, coupled with a $2,000 contribution from the town, will fund a new system that will fill those oxygen bottles with purified air.
“It’s nothing exciting, just a critical piece of equipment,” O’Brien said.
The new system will be installed at the Pinardville fire station, replacing one that is 20 years old. It will feed compressed, purified air into the bottles. Each bottle lasts about 30 minutes, O’Brien said. At the scene of any given fire, he said firefighters usually will have two bottles with them.
Also, the department is getting ready to purchase something far more expensive – an ambulance, at a cost of about $160,000. That will replace a 2003 vehicle.
O’Brien said the constant abuse ambulances take during emergencies generally makes them last only five to six years. The other ambulance the town has is a 2005 vehicle, which is scheduled for replacement in 2011.
After the ambulance purchase, the town will have approximately $200,000 left in its EMS Special Revenue Fund – where revenue is deposited from the fees that are charged to patients who use the ambulance.
O’Brien will present the Goffstown Board of Selectmen with a proposal for changing ambulance rates at its Nov. 24 meeting. The town’s rates historically have mirrored the national ones set by Medicare, but O’Brien said some private insurance carriers will pay higher fees.
“It is the town’s theory that we should be able to tap these resources in order to pay for the increased cost in services,” O’Brien said.
The current rates range from $353.08 to $606.86. The low rate might be charged to someone who, for example, needed to be transported to the hospital for a broken ankle. The highest one would be for a person who suffered a heart attack or other serious condition that required advanced life support from paramedics.
“The rate is predominantly driven by what care is given,” O’Brien said.
Mileage is billed separately from the rates, at $6.55 per mile.
Before any changes are passed, the town will have to hold a public hearing on the proposal, according to O’Brien. He said he would try to keep the new, town rates as close as possible to the national Medicare rates, especially since residents who are on Medicare or Medicaid would continue to pay the federal rates.