STATEWIDE – Small towns across Maine rely on volunteers to put out fires. But many of them can’t find enough people to answer the call.
Liberty Fire Chief Bill Gillespie said “We’re at catastrophic levels at this point in time within the state with manpower in the fire service and EMS. We’re all in the same boat.”
The number of volunteer fire fighters is dwindling.
Bucksport Fire Chief Craig Bowden added “Being able to maintain the amount of training it takes to stay qualified to be on a scene really cuts into peoples time and especially some of the smaller communities they just aren’t able to find as many people.”
Fire officials said many people now work outside the community they live in. Because of that it’s harder to get a response when a daytime fire happens.
Chief Bowden also said “In this region we do have a lot of automatic mutual aid with the surrounding towns. A lot of people question why you may have six departments on a structure fire. It’s mostly for the manpower issue.”
Bucksport is luckier than most. They have a paid call department so their numbers have stayed fairly level but even they are looking at ways to spark interest early on. They plan to start a junior firefighter program.
Most fire departments will pay to have you trained. Whatever you can do there is always a job for everybody in the fire service from directing traffic to driving trucks to pumping trucks to going into burning buildings. Whatever you are comfortable with.