A fire department in Maine has an emergency of its own. Firefighters have been ordered to "stand down" and stop responding to calls until they get updated gear.
Limington Selectman Bruce Rozett said town officials learned on Friday that the department was using dangerously outdated equipment. Federal guidelines require boots, coats, pants and helmets be retired every 10 years, but much of Limington's firefighter gear was purchased in 2005.
"Rather than put one of our firefighters in jeopardy, we would have the fire department stand down," said Rozett.
He said the gear is supposed to be inspected annually, and he does not know how its condition slipped through the cracks.
The longtime fire chief retired earlier this month, and the assistant chief was recently surveying the equipment, Rozett said. The assistant was the one who alerted selectmen about the age of the gear.
"While understanding how we got here and who may be responsible is important, it's not at all important until we get the fire department back in service," said Rozett.
For now, only paramedics responding to medical calls will be working in the fire department.
Rozett said the town has coordinated with neighboring fire departments to ensure mutual aid during fire emergencies in Limington. He hopes to secure gear from other departments and get the department up and running again in a few days.
"The community should not be worried at all," he said.
But some are concerned.
Misty Romero moved to Limington after her house in Demark, Maine, burned down last year. Shortly after her house fire, the restaurant where she worked was also destroyed by a fire.
"It was the most traumatizing thing that's ever happened to me in my entire life," said Romero.
Having her new community put a pause on fire services makes her feel unsafe.
"If they can't get it together, we'll probably have to move out of town because that's unreasonable," she said.