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Fort Fairfield Town Council votes in favor of full-time fire and EMS service

FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — Fort Fairfield councilors voted unanimously Wednesday, Oct. 16, in favor of starting their own full-time fire and EMS service, citing the crucial need for those services in the town.

Since May, Fort Fairfield has relied on the Presque Isle Fire Department for ambulance service after deciding not to renew their contract with Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital. 

During the Oct. 16 council meeting, Town Manager Andrea Powers read a memo from her office, recommending that councilors vote in favor of starting a firefighter-based EMS service within the town’s fire department. She also read a letter of support from Presque Isle City Manager Martin Puckett and Presque Isle Fire Chief Darrell White.

“As you and the council move forward in this process, we will make ourselves available to you with any questions that you have,” Powers said, reading from Puckett’s and White’s letter. 

All councilors expressed support for the EMS transition, saying that many town residents had voiced their concerns over the consequences of not having reliable EMS services.

“The amount of positive response I’ve heard about this is overwhelming,” said councilor Robert Kilcollins. “Having to wait for an ambulance to arrive is something that the community has been concerned about.”

Scott Smith, himself a former firefighter, noted that having firefighters trained in EMS on staff will allow the town to increase fire protection in an era that has been marked by a decrease in volunteer firefighters locally and nationwide.

“We need to be able to provide these services for our own citizens,” Smith said.

In a previous council workshop held on Oct. 9 to discuss EMS options, Fort Fairfield Fire Chief Vince Baldwin recommended that the town consider a five-year lease-to-purchase agreement of $46,137, with a $14,000 maintenance package. The lease-to-purchase option, he said, would allow the town to save money each year and have full coverage on the ambulance if the vehicle broke down and a replacement was needed.

On Wednesday Baldwin said that he and councilors will take more time to discuss the type of ambulance they might purchase and the budget for a fire/EMS service.

In other business, the town’s public safety department received the Weather Ready Nation Ambassador of Excellence Award from the National Weather Service in Caribou. The award recognizes municipalities that promote emergency weather preparedness in their communities and educate the public on weather safety measures.

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