PARIS — Town officials hope an overhauled ordinance updating the Fire Department’s regulations will help it address a growing concern that fewer firefighters are being asked to do more work.

The amended Fire Department Ordinance, which trims the municipal law passed 17 years ago from 13 pages to two, clears up language for hiring employees, the total number of firefighters required for the department and the breakdown of how many captains and lieutenants oversee them. 

According to Town Manager Amy Bernard, the proposed amended law would give the town flexibility for the future. 

“The town wants to provide the best service it can for the cost,” Bernard said. “Whether that’s regionalizing staff or looking at another system, we’ll weigh the pros and cons and bring it to the voters.” 

Selectmen on Monday night scheduled a public hearing for 7 p.m. Oct. 14 in the Town Office for residents to comment on the proposed changes. 

Bernard said the current ordinance is restrictive and leaves the town “in the dark ages” when it comes to current practices. Ultimately, the goal is to find a better way to attract firefighters. 


“All of the fire departments in the area and around the state know that there are not enough volunteer fire departments to fill the positions — and we’re in the same boat,” she said.  

Paris fire Chief Brad Frost said that the department’s 37-man roster — none of whom are full-time employees — will benefit from being relieved from an ordinance made arbitrary by changing times.

The shifting landscape the town faces is not uncommon to fire departments statewide, he said. Twenty years ago, back when the town could count upon 50 firefighters, it received between 80 and 100 calls a year.

Three-quarters of the way through this calendar year, that number is 400. 

“We’re doing more work with fewer people,” he said. “It’s putting a strain on these firefighters.” 

Frost said the ordinance was designed under a mindset that counted on volunteer firefighters from local manufacturing businesses to respond to emergencies. With those businesses gone, how the town reacts to changing times will dictate how well it can respond to a fire — and how much everything will cost. 

“Nobody in my department works in downtown, and half of them are two-income families, where they work other jobs,” Frost said.

Bernard said that the town has not approached other towns about combining firefighters into one regional department, though Frost said he has had those discussions with the chiefs in Oxford and Norway. 

“I’m ready for it,” he said.

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