Greenwood ponders staffing fire station on more expensive holidays
With the knowledge that they must pay town employees double time if they work on holidays, Greenwood selectmen are pondering whether to continue manning their fire station on those days.
The question arose at the last board meeting when selectmen noticed how much is paid out for holidays.
Chairman Fred Henderson asked Fire Chief Al Curtis his thoughts on the situation.
“We don’t find that we need to man the station on Christmas or the Fourth of July due to so many [firefighters] being around town,” said Curtis. “My guys have agreed that if this comes down to a money issue, we will just make sure we have someone around town during the holidays in question. We need to be here for our community and to keep our residents safe.”
“I don’t see why we need to fix something that doesn’t seem broken,” said Selectman Amy Chapman.
“Maybe we need to pick and choose the holidays we cover and pay accordingly,” said Selectman Arnie Jordan. “I guess we’re looking to make some kind of compromise.”
The board elected to wait until the Dec. 18 meeting to decide, in order to give the issue more thought. The decision will take effect Jan. 1.
Curtis also told the board that they have seen an increase in calls to cover other departments because of accidents and the need for traffic control. “The county and state are depending on us to cover traffic while they’re getting the reports done,” he said. “Often we’re the ones still waiting there when the wrecker comes and the cops are long gone.”
Curtis said the firefighters are mandated to take an eight-hour traffic control class each year to stay abreast of regulation.
“I’d like to see us concentrating more on fires than on traffic control,” said Jordan.
Curtis agreed, and added, “It’s almost like we have become the default for traffic.”
He also said a trend in southern Maine could come to this area. “York County has seen an increase in the amount of fires they’re having due to foreclosure. They’re having one call for a fire and then a few minutes later another call comes in. People are realizing the department is busy with one and someone sets another. It’s not a good sign, but it’s reality.”
As for Greenwood aiding other towns on calls, Curtis said, “My mind goes back to Mt. Abram [a fire in 2011]. We really needed help that night and we got it. I would hate to think we wouldn’t have that coverage if something else of that size happened.”
Henderson said, “It costs money, but it’s not a bad thing to cover other towns. It might be us again someday.”