Former Lewiston residents donate $181,000 emergency vehicle to Maine

LEWISTON — State Fire Marshal John Dean never would have asked for the $181,000 command vehicle he'll take control of Saturday.

"I know a lot better than to request anything like that," Dean said. "I couldn't even consider anything like this, so it really is a windfall for us."

The command vehicle for Dean's department is being customized and donated by the manufacturer, La Boit Inc., of Columbus, Ohio.

Company owners Anne and Gil Blais are Lewiston natives and wanted to make the exchange in their hometown, according to company officials.

An official ceremony, featuring state and local fire officials and the Blaises, is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Lewiston's Central Fire Station, 2 College St.

The 33-foot long vehicle is designed to serve as a mobile command center in case of an emergency. It features a meeting room, work stations with computer hookups, a bathroom, coffee maker and microwave oven.

"It isn't something we'll use every day, but there are a number of occasions where it will be necessary," Dean said. "If there's a large fire and we are going to be there for a while, it's really nice to have a place to bring victims or witnesses to interview them. If we are working with multiple agencies, it's nice to have a conference room and work area to plan."

The command vehicle will be stored in Augusta, ready to respond anywhere in Maine it's needed.

The company specializes in customizing large vehicles for mobile veterinary, dental or health care. Koni Wade, national sales manager, said they began making customized command vehicles after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Company owner Gil Blais wanted to give something back to his hometown, Wade said.

"Budgets are strapped thin everywhere, but being this was his hometown, he thought it would be a pretty great gift," she said.

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Very nice gesture!

Very nice gesture!


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