Audit finds need for fourth Auburn fire station

AUBURN — A fourth fire station south of the city, near Exit 75, would reduce emergency response times to a growing part Auburn.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Firefighter Tom Printup, left, runs scenarios with Lt. Scott Pray on Friday as he prepares for his upcoming promotion boards for the position of captain at Auburn Central Fire Station. A recent audit has been released outlining some cost-saving suggestions for the department.

That's one finding of a 118-page audit of Auburn Fire Department operations released by the city Friday afternoon.

The audit, performed by Matrix Consulting Group of Palo Alto, Calif., in October, also found that the Fire Department is adequately staffed for typical or moderate household-type risks but not for higher risks involving larger structures.

Interim Fire Chief Geoff Low said he received the report Friday morning. He emailed copies to the City Council and union officials Friday and said he hopes to post a copy to the city's website soon.

It was commissioned by the city partially in response to conflicts with city councilors last summer. In one instance, a city councilor followed an Auburn firetruck as it drove around, videotaping the trip.

"But a large part of it was lingering questions the public has had about why we have so many stations and why we have so many firefighters," Low said. "This was one way to compile some answers in a nonbiased format."

The study involved consultants reviewing Fire Department records, city plans and census forecasts and interviewing city firefighters.

Auburn has three fire stations. Auburn Engine 5, Tower 1, a technical rescue vehicle, a boat and a truck are housed at the 651 Center St. station. That station is staffed by two lieutenants and five firefighters.

The New Auburn station is housed at 181 South Main St. and houses pumper truck Engine No. 2. It is staffed by a lieutenant and two firefighters.

Central Station at 550 Minot Ave. is home to Engine 3 and the battalion chief's vehicle. It's staffed by a battalion chief, captain, lieutenant and two firefighters, as well as the department's administration.

Those stations provide a four-minute response times to the entire downtown. The department provides eight-minute response to rural areas of the city, including Exit 75 on the Maine Turnpike, and provides 12-minute response near the city limits. Response to the Danville area and the Durham line is outside the 12-minute response.

Building a new station near Exit 75 would extend the four-minute response south to include much of Danville, the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport and the southern business parks.

The audit also finds that the department typically has 13 firefighters able to respond to any emergency, with a maximum of 15 at times.

That is sufficient to respond to most of the emergencies in Auburn, but would fall short of emergencies that would occur at larger high-risk structures.

The audit also recommends the department adopt a formal policy for dealing with the press and the public, strengthen its website, publish an annual report to the public and seek department accreditation through a national group.

"I think it validates a lot of what we've believed about ourselves all along, but have not been able to verify on our own," Low said. "It was definitely worth it and is a document we can refer to as we go forward."

Auburn Fire Department Performance and Management Analysis

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MICHAEL FOX's picture


I remember the Danville Station too. Most likely it is still owned by the city. If it so important for them to have another station, use that one. Buy the Post office next door and turn it into living quarters. The city will get out of it much cheaper, and be just as effective as a new station.

Leo Camire's picture

No they don't !

When the city closed down Danville Station, the land and building went back to the family that donated.


The taxpayers can't afford

The taxpayers can't afford this right now.

Keith Dutton's picture

Two thoughts

1. Based on the number of EMS calls, I was surprised the consultants did not recommend placing the advanced life support rescue back in service. The previous city manager defunded it a few years ago.

2. The proposed 3-platoon work shift of 24/48 used to be the schedule until 1981. The city manager at that time wanted us to be more productive, so at 4-platoon schedule was adopted, with a 10-10-14-14 schedule adopted (two 10-hour days followed by two 14-hour nights followed by four days off). That lasted until the late 80s when it was negotiated to go back on a 24-hour shift.

The AFD is a vibrant, productive city department, but former city manager Aho continually hammered away, eliminating both the rescue and the fire chief's position, and eroding other aspects of the department. But he's gone now, so the city council has an opportunity to fix his mistakes.

Mike Lachance's picture

oooo not naming names on that

oooo not naming names on that 1982 city manager huh... (snicker)
Well.... some of us know who it was. :-P

Keith Dutton's picture

It was....

Ta Da! Chip Morrison! I was having a brain burp earlier and couldn't remember his last name....

Jason Theriault's picture


Building a new station near Exit 80 would extend the four-minute response south to include much of Danville, the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport and the southern business parks.

Look, I'm Dan now!

SCOTT TAYLOR's picture


Good catch.

Jason Theriault's picture

No Ptrob =)

Feel free to delete this

Leo Camire's picture

They had a Station in Danville

Auburn had a Station in Danville, it was Auburn Engine 7 and it was manned by dedicated Volunteers. They received no pay and trained on there own time. They responded when needed to assist the full time department. The City of Auburn closed them down a few years ago. So why now do they need to open another one when they said Danville was not needed and closed it down. A lot of the Firefighters who are now full time for Auburn Fire were trained in Danville. I know because I retired from Danville after 10 years of service just before they closed it down.

Mike Lachance's picture

... and everything old is new

... and everything old is new again.
Well, i think when they originally closed the Danville Station they were planning on giving every firefighter his own iPad... but those darn Kindergartners got 'em first!


Mark Belanger's picture

Just keep in mind fine people

Just keep in mind fine people of Auburn. They can and will sway any report to go in there favor. If you dig in and find out just what you are paying for, you would realize the cost to the city is huge. The benifits alone will scare you. And most of those are unfunded liabilities into the future.

Dan Beggs's picture

spending more is bad idea

this is not the time to expand any government agency.

Joe Gray's picture

At some point in the future...

The report does state we WILL need a station for the industrial zone some time in the future. There is a lot more in the report than reported here.

I encourage all residents of Auburn to read the report and come to the council meetings or engage with your councilors and city staff to let them know what you think.


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