RUMFORD – The Mexico Fire Department has spent virtually the same amount of money fighting Rumford fires as they have their own so far this fiscal year.

And Mexico Town Manager John Madigan said his town cannot afford to subsidize other towns.

“We could bill you, we could all put money in a pool to pay a call force. We’ve got to be fair,” he said at a Thursday night joint meeting of selectmen from Mexico and Rumford.

Although Mexico provides mutual aid for several other River Valley towns, the amount it provides Rumford is nearly twice the total of all other towns so far this year, according to records presented by fire Chief Gary Wentzell. Mexico has used 652 man hours and $6,571 to fight its own fires, and 651 man hours and $6,511 to help Rumford.

“I’ll be well overdrawn by the end of the year,” he said. “Since last spring, there has been an abundance of structure fires.”

He said his department has about $3,000 remaining in the call force account for the current fiscal year that ends June 30.

Rumford Selectmen Vice Chairman Arthur Boivin asked whether there was a way to reduce the number of times that Mexico responds to Rumford fires.

The current dispatch system, based out of the Oxford County Communications Center, tones out for structure fires.

Rumford has half the number of call force members as Mexico. Finding volunteers has become increasingly difficult, partially because of the number of training hours firefighters must undergo.

“Things have changed so much since 9/11. Now training is required in hazardous materials, anthrax, blood-borne pathogens. We’re losing people,” Wentzell said.

Rumford Town Manager Jim Doar said he favored creating one call force pool, starting with Rumford and Mexico, then perhaps branching out.

He and Madigan plan to work together to find a solution to Mexico’s call force shortage of money.

The two boards, and perhaps Dixfield, plan to get together again Feb. 13 to discuss the issues further, and potentially other shared services.


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