TOWNSEND -- New equipment at the Townsend Fire Department means increased safety for the region.
The department's Kawasaki Mule has new tracks and a new skid and a trailer to transport the large all-terrain vehicle is in the works, said Chief Mark Boynton.
The department also has new cot for the ambulance; it is powered, meaning fewer back injuries for responders, he said.
The Mule was leased from Souhegan Valley Motorsports in Milford for one year. A special deal run by Kawasaki meant the department paid only maintenance for the first year and was then able to buy it at a discounted price, he said.
With 5,420 acres of state-owned open space, numerous other conservation areas and miles of trails, the vehicle can be used for fighting fires or rescue.
"With all the state forests, we've had a number of incidents," Boynton said, "brush fires, somebody lost in the woods or broke an ankle."
During his six months on the job, Boynton has not yet used the ATV. "We've been nice and quiet since I've been here," he said.
During the first year the department owned it, the vehicle responded to brush fires. A 55-gallon tank and a pump are on the back.
During a test drive along the river behind the station, the remains of a brush fire were visible under the power lines.
A basket secured to the back of the ATV can be used to transport a person out of the woods.
Now that the Kawasaki is equipped with tracks, the ride is smoother, said Capt. Michael Grimley as he drove along the trial.
All of the department members have driven the vehicle -- no special training was required, Boynton said. It can be used on cart roads, fire roads and trails.
When the new trailer arrives, it will be used to transport the Kawasaki to where it is needed, even beyond the town border.
Townsend has mutual-aid agreements with all the surrounding towns. "We essentially go where we're called," Boynton said.
Other towns in the mid-state region provide different services to neighbors. For example, Boynton said, if Townsend needs to do a large-animal rescue, Lunenburg has equipment to help out.
Townsend provides advanced life-support intercept service to neighboring towns through mutual aid. The powered stretcher on the ambulance can lift up to 700 pounds. The new cot is kept on whichever of the two ambulances is stored in the garage at the main station.
The other ambulance is stored at the garage behind Memorial Hall, said firefighter/EMT Derek Maskalenko. The vehicles are switched-out weekly.
Instead of lifting by hand, a process that can take six to eight people if the patient is very heavy, a small battery powers the lift.
"You just never know," Boynton said.
The department is in the process of implementing a patient care reporting system that will be on the ambulance, hopefully, by Jan. 1, he said.
"This will cut down on paperwork," he said. "I'll have people freed up to do other things."
Boynton credits his predecessor, Don Klein, with making the equipment purchases possible. Before retiring, Klein put all the needed items on the capital plan for funding.