Lisbon chief wants to move fire company off Main Street

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LISBON — Moving the Lisbon Falls Fire Company off Main Street is fire Chief Sean Galipeau’s “No. 1 priority,” he told the Town Council on Tuesday night.

Galipeau’s comment came in response to a question by Councilor Dillon Pesce, who wanted to know if he has undertaken an analysis of the town’s two buildings that house the two fire companies. The other company, which has about 20 on-call firefighters, is the E.T. Smith Hose Company.

The Lisbon Falls company has about 40 firefighters.

“The two stations work right now,” Galipeau said. “But the Lisbon Falls station is too close to the downtown. It’s a very congested area.” He said he wouldn’t be opposed to one centralized fire station, but that decision can’t be made right away.

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“We have compiled some information, so that when we start those discussions, we will have the information we need,” he said.

Asked when those discussions could begin, Galipeau said, “We’re ready to start now.”

Council Chairwoman Lisa Ward, who lives near the Lisbon Falls station, agreed the location isn’t good.

“It’s definitely a hazard when there’s an emergency and there’s limited parking for the responding firefighters to park their cars,” she said.

Galipeau’s is one of a series of presentations by department heads to bring councilors up to date on their current status.

“In the past 20 years, technology in the Fire Department has skyrocketed,” Galipeau said. Although the department has been able to keep up with that technology, the recruitment and retention of firefighters has been difficult.

“Recruitment and retention is a nationwide epidemic,” Galipeau said. “If we hire 10 in a year, we’ll lose seven. Part of the reason for that may be there’s a big training burden in the beginning.”

In a review of the department’s history, Galipeau said the department has been able to obtain more than $350,000 in grants, and in the past 11 years, the department’s budget has only increased about $50,000 — about $4,500 a year, or a 1.8 percent increase yearly, not including truck purchases.

The department answers between 150 and 300 calls a year.

Galipeau was hired as the chief in 2002 after a career in firefighting at the Brunswick Naval Air Station.

“I was working 24 hours on, 24 hours off,” he said. “So I decided to take this job so I could stay home more and watch my kids grow up.”

It seems to have had an impact.

“My 18-year-old daughter has gone through the Junior program, and I think her goal is to be a firefighter medic,” he said.

In other business, the Town Council approved renewing Daniel Miller Jr.’s request for a pawnbroker license and a mass gathering permit for Stanley Costello’s flea market.

The town’s 2014-15 Capital Improvement Plan was also approved.

The council voted to sign an energy performance contract with Siemens on the recommendation of town engineer Ryan Leighton.

The town’s second interim town manager in the last three weeks, retired Freeport Town Manager Dale Olmstead, assumed his duties Tuesday. He will work three days a week while the Town Council considers whether it wants to hire a consulting firm to help them select a new town manager.

The council voted not to renew former Town Manager Steve Eldridge’s contract,  which ended Jan. 6.

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