SHELTON — The fire department will be getting a gear upgrade.

The Board of Aldermen at its meeting Thursday at City Hall approved $158,174.40 to buy 40 full sets of personal protective equipment. The gear being purchased include fire coat and pants; helmets, shields and goggles; boots, both structural and extrication gloves; and fire hoods. The last such purchases were made more than two years ago.

“The Shelton Fire Department is very fortunate to have the support of the mayor, board of alderman, board of fire commissioners and the residents year in and year out,” said Shelton Deputy Fire Chief Paul Wilson. “With approximately 260 members, it is important to ensure that interior qualified member are equipped with OSHA-compliant personal protective equipment.”

Per Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements, Wilson said firefighting PPE is required to be removed from intense service every 10 years.

“We make every effort to rotate this gear from the active members every five to seven years due to the constant wear and tear,” said Wilson. “Whenever possible, this gear is given to new members or ‘non-structural’ members, and the new compliant PPE is given to those active ‘interior qualified’ members.”

Wilson said the department has also created a new standard operating procedure on cleaning and maintaining PPE. Each fire company has a washing machine designed specifically for firefighting PPE, and the department also requires annual inspections of the PPE issued to the members in each company.

“It is our goal to outfit every active ‘interior qualified’ member with two sets of PPE,” said Wilson. “Presently, should we respond to a structure fire, hazardous material incident or any emergency that would cause a members gear to become contaminated, the PPE would be removed from service for laundering or even repair. This would sideline that member until the gear is cleaned or returned from repair.

“With our goal of outfitting these members with two sets of PPE, it would allow them to place that second set in service immediately and respond to emergency calls without interruption in service,” added Wilson.

The Shelton Fire Department is all volunteer and responded to more than 1,300 emergency calls in 2019.

In other business, the aldermen made three separate purchases for the Parks and Recreation Department.

The aldermen approved $72,952 for a 2019 Ford F550 cab and chassis and $19,686 for an infield groomer.

The aldermen also approved spending no more than $27,743 for the purchase of a zero-turn rotary mower. Mayor Mark Lauretti recommended approving the motion in this fashion to allow the aldermen to examine both the submitted bids, make a decision and then make the purchase without delay.

The accepted bid, $27,743, is some $10,000 more than the second bid. The question, according to Lauretti, is why not go with the lower bid.

"I think we need to do our due diligence here,” said Lauretti. “$10,000 is a lot of money.”

Once a final decision is made, Lauretti said the exact figure spent will be reflected in the minutes.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com