OTISFIELD — The Gore Road Fire Station is an active station, it just isn’t a manned station, according to Fire Chief Kyle Jordan.

There simply are not enough firefighters living in that area, he said.

John Steede, of Bow Street – that intersects with Gore Road about 500 feet from the fire station – met with the Otisfield Board of Selectmen last week to ask why the fire station isn’t manned and what effect that has on response time to fires and homeowner insurance premiums.

“I think we have to take care of our own people and get someone assigned,” said Steede, who served on the Otisfield Fire Department for about 20 years.

Selectman Len Adler, a longtime firefighter, and fellow selectman and firefighter Hal Ferguson both told Steede that it is difficult for most towns to get volunteer firefighters primarily because of the time involved in mandated training.

“We can’t draft firefighters,” Adler said.


Jordan said the Gore Road Fire Station equipment is inspected once a month and if it is needed, there is a firefighter who will go to the station to get the engine. Most firefighters normally respond directly to the fire or to the Spurr’s Station or Pugleyville to get equipment. Because of the relative remoteness of the Gore Road station, the only Otisfield firefighter close to it is actually a resident of nearby Harrison.

Currently the Gore Road Fire Station engine is on loan to the Harrison Fire Department while it purchases another engine to replace the one totaled in a recent accident while responding to a carbon monoxide detector alarm. Harrison Town Manager George “Bud” Finch said the town expects to commit to a replacement truck this week.

Selectmen and Jordan said the response time to fire in Otisfield is not dependant on the equipment in the Gore Road Fire Station. The town, like others in the area, also have mutual response agreements with nearby towns.

The group told Steede that training is a big issue in recruiting new firefighters.

The Maine State Legislature created Maine Fire Service Training in 1948 in response to the fires that burned across the state in 1947. In 2011, the Maine State Legislature passed legislation which reorganized the Maine fire training and education into the Maine Fire Service Institute.

According to the Maine Fire Service Institute, there are a number of  designations such as Fire Fighter I and II, fire officer and specialized training, which necessitate different training programs designed to comply with the National Fire Protection Association Standards. Not every firefighter is certified to go inside a burning building or drive a ladder truck, for example.


In Maine, a prospective firefighter needs to complete a 170-hour training course that covers all areas of firefighting such as fighting an interior fire, meth lab recognition, terrorism awareness, how to use fire fighting tools and equipment, how to rescue people from vehicles, how to respond to an emergency and more. Passage of a written test is also required.

Training is time consuming, said Adler.

He added even though he is licensed to drive a tractor trailer filled with nitroglycerin across the country, he was still required to take a driver’s test to drive a firetruck.

Fire departments are rated by the Insurance Services Office Inc., a risk management and insurance underwriter company that weighs a number of factors on a 1 to 10 rating, which are reflected in homeowners’ insurance policies. The system looks at things such as the number of volunteer fire stations and their proximity to buildings.

Jordan said the fact that Gore Road station is an active fire station with an active piece of equipment should ensure a homeowners insurance rates are less than homes without that protection.

The 32-foot-by-50-foot Gore Road Fire Station was built in early 1993. There are two other fire stations in town.


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