Thursday, March 31, 2005

Plant fires under investigation

Published in the Current

SCARBOROUGH (March 31, 2005): The cause of a March 24 fire at RTS Packaging in the Scarborough Industrial Park is under investigation, according to Scarborough Fire Chief Michael Thurlow.

The fire did not do significant damage to the building, though the company did lose some of its products, according to a company spokesman. The company makes cardboard packaging such as dividers in beverage cartons.

Thurlow said the fire appears to have started in a cardboard waste collection system that runs throughout the building and collects scraps of cardboard cut by machinery. Thurlow likened the system to a sawdust collection system in a carpentry workshop.

He said the fire started somewhere in the system by an unknown cause, and said it is not the first time such a fire has started in the system.

“We really don’t know just what’s causing it,” Thurlow said. He said the company is being “very cooperative” and wants to find the cause of the fires as well, to avoid future damage and losses.

Town gets new ambulance

The Scarborough Fire Department has received a new ambulance, which arrived Tuesday. It is part of a multi-year effort to replace the town’s aging ambulances. Two of the three were replaced last year, and the new arrival means all three of the town’s ambulances are new.

A five-year contract with the ambulance dealer means each of the ambulances will be in service for three years before being traded back in for credit toward a new ambulance, according to Fire Chief Michael Thurlow.

“It keeps them under factory warranty,” meaning the town pays “virtually nothing” toward maintenance costs, he said.

The town’s previous ambulances were out of warranty and required a lot of maintenance. The one replaced this week was a 10-year-old model, Thurlow said. “It was a rough ride to Portland,” he said.

The new ambulances cost about $130,000, and if they drive fewer than 36,000 miles in three years – something Thurlow thinks likely – the dealer will give 50 percent of that back to the town in trade-in credit toward a future ambulance.

The contract the town has with the dealer is for five years, starting last year, and can be extended for two additional years beyond that, giving the town fixed prices on the vehicles.

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