CHESTERVILLE — At two recent board meetings, selectmen have discussed the availability of trained firefighters to respond to emergency calls.
In late November, Fire Chief John Archer told the board he had no one licensed for emergency medical service calls. Several want to take the training and two need to finish training.
“People are working; they aren’t in town,” Archer said.
Selectman Edward Hastings IV, who is the fire chief in Livermore Falls, asked Archer to give a year-end report on the number of times no one showed up for a call.
“It’s important to keep abreast of the situation,” Hastings said.
Highway Foreman Mike Cote said, “It’s a nationwide problem for bus and plow drivers, police, EMS and fire departments.”
By consensus, the selectmen agreed to allow Cote and highway employee Wesley Witherly to respond to emergency calls when they can. They are certified and when available, Cote responds to calls in Farmington.
Last week, Archer said he had spoken with Farmington Fire-Rescue Chief Terry Bell about the times no one from Chesterville was available for calls. There have been six to eight this year.
Hastings said, “Our community needs to be aware the town isn’t meeting that obligation. It’s not that we’re not actively trying. What we’ve been doing isn’t working. We need to address this.”
He asked Archer to provide a monthly report of the calls when no one from Chesterville responded.
“I’m hoping it won’t happen again next year,” Archer said.
“It’s not just here,” Cote said. “No young people want to step up. Personnel are getting older and can’t do things on a fire scene because of age factors. What can we do in a small community to get people to want to be there?”
“We need to be open-minded,” Hastings said. “There may come a time when we have to pay to subsidize fire calls. This is more than what mutual aid was designed for.”
Board of Selectman Vice Chairman Tiffany Estabrook said, “It should be looked at county-wide.”
There have been times when emergency calls have come in and no one from the Chesterville Fire Department was available to respond. Two members of the highway department are certified and have been given approval to respond if available. (File photo/Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)