Camden firefighters soon will have new hydraulic equipment in case a motor vehicle accident requires extrication.

Fire Chief Chris Farley said the department plans to purchase a hydraulic cutter, spreader, ram and power unit with funds from the sale of Engine 1 earlier this year. Select board members approved use of the money for that purpose April 16.

"It will increase efficiency, because we are already there," Farley said, adding keeping the equipment on Engine 4 also will cut down of the number of emergency workers' personal vehicles parked on the side of the road. "The more we can give our firefighters to do, the more they are actively engaged."

During the design process for Engine 4, firefighters anticipated inclusion of such hydraulic equipment.

"[It happened] a little sooner than we anticipated, which is good," Farley said. "It will allow Camden First Aid to focus on patient care and allow firefighters to be useful [at vehicle crashes]…it increases teamwork between the fire department and EMS."

Currently, Camden's Access Team is called when extrication from a vehicle is required. The access team is part of Camden First Aid Association, the future of which hangs in the balance following a massive increase in funding requests to the four municipalities it serves. Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville and Hope issued a request for proposals for emergency medical services; the deadline to return RFPs for consideration was April 23. Extrication is not required of those responding to the RFP; however, it states proposals for such "value added services" will be accepted.

Because fire department equipment and personnel responds to crashes in addition to an ambulance, Farley said it makes sense to have the hydraulic equipment arrive along with personnel who may otherwise be waiting for something to do. The fire department does not currently own any of the hydraulic tools expected to be purchased, he said.

In other locations, hydraulic tools have been used in industrial equipment accidents as well, Farley noted.

He said training by representatives of Holmatro, the company that manufactures the equipment CFD intends to purchase, is included in the price tag of $23,500. The department also has its eye on air bags, or lifting bags, used to lift heavy objects but money for those will likely come from future fundraisers, Farley said.

"We should be able to buy these [four items] and the hoses," he said, noting a donation toward purchase of a thermal imaging camera made an additional $5,000 already budgeted available for use toward the new equipment.

Farley said he expects to have some of the new hydraulic equipment on display during a May 15 Business After Hours event at the station on Washington Street.