Firefighter interested in EMA position

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LIVERMORE FALLS – A Livermore Falls resident wants to take over the emergency management director position to help all department set guidelines for handling disasters.

Jason Miller, a firefighter, reserve police officer and a security guard at Wausau Paper, addressed the issue with selectmen Monday night.

Town EMA Director Ernie Steward, also the police chief, said Tuesday he would be willing to resign the position if selectmen agree to set up a budget and appoint someone else to fulfill the duties.

Steward said he gets no extra pay for the job, and police work takes up his time.

Federal and state governments are requiring towns to develop all-hazard emergency plans in order to receive future grants for equipment and other items, and emergency funding in case of a disaster.

Last year, most members of the fire department and many other departments took National Incident Management System training, a program that establishes a chain of command and guidelines on responsibilities during an emergency, Miller said.

Applying for funds is becoming more and more complicated and it requires documentation to be kept, he said.

Miller said he has been working as the deputy director to get some projects started, but doesn’t have authority to do anything legal. He based his proposal on several other emergency management budgets.

He presented a 2007 budget of $2,000 for emergency management, not realizing that the town works on a fiscal year from July 1 to June 30.

Selectman Bill Demaray said there would be no money allocated from the town until voters decide 2007-08 budget in June.

Miller said the Livermore Falls Water District and the Sewer Department would be willing to cover six months of the budget with the district paying for one-third and the department paying for two-thirds, with the idea those departments wouldn’t have to fund it the next year. It would start the process to update and develop individual and overall all-hazard emergency plans.

The idea would be that departments eligible to apply for grants would share in the cost of the budget, Miller said.

The government wants to see everybody working together, he said.

Sewer Department Superintendent Kent Mitchell said the real push to develop emergency plans came after the flood.

“Getting FEMA rebates is quite complicated, and it takes somebody to be in charge of it,” Mitchell said. The plan that he has that covers things such as chemical spills and hazardous materials responses was last updated in 1991.

He gave an example of why an emergency plan is needed: The whole downtown could be isolated by a stopped train. There are three railroad crossings that cut across intersections of Route 4, Main and Depot streets that could stop ambulance, police and firefighters from getting to an emergency in that area.

Other items that are needed, Miller said, include generators for the municipal building, where the emergency dispatch communications are, and the fire station.

Selectmen directed Town Manager Martin Puckett to draw up guidelines for an EMA department and position so that everything is spelled out and clear to all involved for future review.

Demaray said selectmen need to be careful so it doesn’t take on a life of its own.

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