Lee fire commissioners approve replacing pair of firehouse furnaces

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TOWN OF LEE — The recent chill inside the Lee Center firehouse is expected to go away soon, following the town Board of Fire commissioners’ approval of replacing two furnaces there.

The board decided Monday night on the furnace purchases, during a meeting held in-person at the Town Hall with masks and social distancing under COVID-19 protocols. Among other topics were a payment from the Lake Delta Volunteer Fire Department for a rented truck, and a pending court case over a Lee Center firehouse renovation that included overhead doors.

• The board approved buying two high-efficiency furnaces for the Lee Center firehouse for about $3,675 apiece through the Flint Heating and Air Conditioning business of Beartown Road.

Board member James Fisher said he would contact the business Tuesday “to get that set up” and have it done as soon as possible.

At the firehouse, used by the Lee Center Volunteer Fire Department, one of its two current furnaces has not been functioning properly and at times has not provided any heat. The unit, which board Chairman Tracy Carpenter has said dates back to the early 1970s, is used for firehouse areas including a meeting room, kitchen, bathrooms and office space. The second furnace which is in the truck bay area has been working, but Carpenter said it is the same age as the other one and the recommendation was to replace both now.

Another bidder, Ber-Mor Gas Service of Rome, was slightly lower at about $3,400 apiece for two high-efficiency furnaces. Carpenter said “I know both contractors....I highly recommend both.” But the Flint business has been servicing the current furnaces, and board member William Young suggested continuing to use Flint based on that; board members noted the closeness of the bid amounts, and Young said “we don’t have to go with the lowest bidder.”

The board oversees the Lee Center Volunteer Department as part of managing fire protection in the taxpayer-funded Lee fire district. It also has an annual contract with the independent Lake Delta Volunteer Fire Department for fire protection coverage in part of the town.

• The fire district received $1,000 from the Lake Delta department for a one-month rental of a fire engine truck through the fire district, said Carpenter.

Carpenter thanked Lake Delta Fire Chief Larry Tamburrino, who was present, for the payment and Tamburrino thanked him in return for use of the truck. It was needed while one of the Lake Delta department’s engine trucks was being repaired.

• Regarding the court case over the Lee Center firehouse renovation, Carpenter said he had “nothing to report” further and had “not heard anything” more. It is “still in the hands of counsel,” he added.

In the state Supreme Court case, which Carpenter also had addressed at the board’s monthly meetings in December and January, the fire district is facing a lawsuit by a contractor seeking final payment for a renovation project that dates back to 2017; the suit is by the M.J. Dakota company, main contractor for the project. The fire district has not paid the full cost because of dissatisfaction with some of the project work.

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