ANDOVER — A $16,858 payment to fix a broken fire truck received some criticism Tuesday over whether or not the fire department broke town policy.

During the selectmen’s meeting, Planning Board member Peggy Madigan said the fire department did not get approval from the Board of Selectmen before making the payment, adding that any expenditures over $3,000 must be put out for a bid, according to town regulations.

“And you at least had to come before the board and tell them what you are doing and ask their approval,” Madigan said.

Selectmen approved several financial payments for town services during the meeting.

Selectmen Joe Luce, left, and Justin Thacker discuss town business Tuesday during the Select Board meeting at Andover Town Hall. Chairman Brian Mills was absent. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

Selectmen Joe Luce and Justin Thacker said that they weren’t sure about the requirements for town departments to seek bids before making purchases but they said that Fire Chief Jim Adler had contacted them about the need to fix the disabled fire truck. Select Board Chair Brian Mills was absent from the meeting.

“I don’t know pertaining to the policy, and I suppose I should, but the fire chief did contact us and it would have been very concerning with that truck not running where it would leave the town very short-handed should there be a fire,” Thacker said.


Adler explained that the town’s Engine 43 was sent to have “a bumper to bumper maintenance; which has never been done (on the vehicle). And we found multiple issues that took it out of service.”

The other fire truck, Tanker Engine 41, failed its pump test at the same time that Engine 43 was taken out of service, Adler said.

“So what’s happening is if we don’t maintain these vehicles we will find ourselves at a point where we won’t have a fire truck. This was not planned … it just snowballed and then you have to fix it while it’s on the lift and they are tearing it apart.

“We never expected this but it unfortunately was an unforeseen emergency repair. I don’t know any other way to handle that,” Adler said.

Andover Fire Chief Jim Adler explains the $16,858 payment made to fix a fire truck during Tuesday’s Select Board meeting at Andover Town Hall. Seated in back, from left, are Road Commissioner Mark Farrington, Transfer Station Foreman Mark Thurston and Planning Board member Peggy Madigan. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

Even with Adler’s explanation, Madigan said that the fire truck repairs should have received bids for the work and that the fire chief was “setting a precedent for other department heads.”

“I just don’t think that it was done in the right way because I don’t think policy was followed,” Madigan said.


Luce responded to Madigan: “Peg, I understand where you’re coming from but, I mean, it was on the lift and it had to be done.”

On Wednesday, Thacker sent a copy of the town’s purchasing policy to the Rumford Falls Times. In his text, he said that the policy “states that ‘any item or service over $3,000 will be required to be a sealed bid.’ However, the policy also states, ‘in an event of an emergency, exceptions may have to be made.’

“I would call the dilemma with Engine 43 and the timing (of it) for the Fire Chief to respond an emergency,” Thacker wrote.

In other news, Thacker said that Andover Elementary School will hold its holiday program at the school on Dec. 14 at 1 p.m. Also, a Christmas gala and concert event will be held upstairs in the auditorium at Town Hall on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. with a matinee on Dec. 17 at 2 p.m.

Thacker also commented on “a very good turnout” at the Christmas light display and holiday gathering on the town common the day after Thanksgiving. “We were pleased with the amount of children that were there and people of all ages, so that was pretty cool,” Thacker said.

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