Limington town officials say a “stand-down” order for the fire department has been lifted after it was determined that its firefighting gear meets Maine standards.

Selectmen in the York County town on Saturday ordered volunteer firefighters not to respond to fires because it appeared their gear was out of compliance with national standards that say the equipment should be retired 10 years after it is manufactured. But a review of the equipment this week determined it is safe to use, according to town selectmen.

Most of the protective gear used by firefighters was purchased in 2005 and exceeds the “mandatory retirement age” of 10 years from the date of manufacture set by the National Fire Protection Association. The national standard applies to jackets, pants, helmets and boots.

In a statement released Wednesday, selectmen said the turnout gear was fully inspected using a checklist provided by the Maine Bureau of Labor Standards and found fully compliant with the state’s minimum safety standards for firefighters. Fully compliant gear was also made available to Limington firefighters by other local fire departments.

Selectmen say they will continue to work with fire department leadership to pursue replacement options so that all gear meets the recommendations. The town in January submitted a grant request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that would provide the town with 20 sets of gear.

While the department was on stand down, surrounding fire departments were ready to provide mutual aid for fire calls. The Limington department continued to respond to medical calls.

The equipment issue was discovered after the retirement of longtime Fire Chief Mike Hartford. The situation with the out-of-date equipment was discovered by assistant chiefs who stepped in to help run the department after Hartford’s retirement. They notified selectmen Friday, and the board met Saturday to figure out how to respond, Selectman Bruce Rozett said.

Rozett said the equipment should have been inspected annually and selectmen do not yet know why that didn’t happen. Annual inspections were done on ladders, pumps and hoses, and they are all in proper working order, he said.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at:

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