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June 21, 2021

Spencer Fire Department replacing equipment after lightning strike

SPENCER — The Spencer Fire Department was in for a shock on Thursday when it was struck by lightning.

The strike near the department’s flag pole caused some visible damage to the grounds and exterior of the building, but inside it destroyed some equipment as well. The station’s air compressor was damaged and internet service at the station was interrupted. Also affected was bay lighting, the station alerting system, a base radio, a computer, monitor, a TV and the station ice machine, said Fire Chief Michael Lanning.

The fire trucks use air brakes, and the compressor is used to charge the brakes quickly when trucks go out on calls. The pressure in the brakes has to build to 100 psi before they release and the trucks can move.

Lanning said call responses will be delayed by three to five minutes while the town is looking to replace the compressor. Lanning said he already received permission from the N.C. League of Municipalities, which provides insurance for the town, to purchase a compressor before the department’s claim is complete.

Lanning said he has notified mutual aid agencies of the delay, too.

It is unclear if the lightning hit the flag pole or the area between the pole and the side of the station. There is damage to some of the pavers at the station entrance, but a contractor will have to assess the full extent of the damage.

The town’s property liability insurance through the league has a $2,500 deductible. Lanning said it would be cheaper to pay the deductible rather than out of pocket for the damage.

“Thank goodness for insurance,” Alderwoman Sharon Hovis said during Tuesday’s Spencer Board of Alderman meeting.

Lanning said the department in the future will ensure every piece of equipment is connected to surge protection.

“That’s part of the issue,” Lanning said, adding he never personally made sure everything was plugged into a surge protector.

Town Manager Peter Franzese on Wednesday told the Post the town is determining a dollar value for the damage.

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