GARDINER —The Gardiner Fire Department will get new extrication equipment and tools with about $70,000 in federal funds awarded this week.

The equipment is expected to be both lighter and easier for firefighters to use when they need to get access to people who have been in crashes.

The department’s current extrication equipment — some of which is as much as 20 years old — uses hydraulics to power it, requiring both time and a couple of people to set up. Because the equipment is tied to its power source by a hose, it’s also limited in where it can be used.

And, Gardiner Fire Chief Rick Sieberg said, it can’t cut all the metals now used in vehicle construction.

Sieberg said he ordered battery-operated equipment — a cutter, a spreader and a ram —  for the engine on Thursday. When it arrives, the equipment will be able to be put to use quickly and won’t require extra work to set it up or stow it. And it won’t be tied by hose to a power source.

The three ambulances will each get a rescue combi tool, a combination cutter and spreader.


“Having it on the ambulance will be handy,” Sieberg said. “A lot of times, where we cover such a big area that’s rural, we often get (to an accident scene) before the fire department. If (you) can just pop a door, that can make a big difference.”

The Gardiner Fire Department also staffs the Gardiner Ambulance Service that covers eight towns in two counties encompassing 250 square miles and about 25,000 people.

Initially, the award was a surprise. Sieberg said he believes the application was submitted in 2021, and he thought perhaps the denial letter had not yet been sent and had given up on it.

But Gardiner’s request for $70,929 was among the awards announced Wednesday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program provides funding to equip firefighters and other first responders with the resources they need to do their jobs.

Gardiner City Manager Andrew Carlton said any time city officials can add critical components to their fire trucks that increase the likelihood a life can be saved is a win.

“In this case,” Carlton said, “we are able to do that without hitting the pockets of our taxpayers.”

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