NEW GLOUCESTER — The Fire & Rescue Department is seeking to fill vacancies in its ranks after seven members left in recent months, some for lack new mandated requirements and others for personal reasons.

Chief Toby Martin said this week that there are 21 active call members and 18 part-timers. Three potential members were interviewed this week, he said.

Since July 1 the department has provided coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week with paid part-timers at a cost of $324,120 for this fiscal year. That has caused friction among some members because not all part-timers are members of the department.

“This is a dying breed,” Martin said of volunteer firefighters, “and New Gloucester is finally catching up.”

Now, members are employees paid hourly and required to cross-train for fire and rescue skills and have documentation as proof of that training.

Martin was promoted to chief in February, months before voters approved merging the fire and rescue departments in May.

Among the changes he made this year is making sure every member has the appropriate documentation for the mandated training.

Martin said the mandates come from the Maine Department of Labor.

“Members say they don’t feel valued and part of that has to do with the fact that I have this authority and they don’t like change,” he said. “I am the chief with jurisdiction of doing my job and they have to understand that I’m doing my job.”

Scott Doyle, who has been a member of the Fire Department for nearly 24 years, understands the demands.

“There are major safety issues and responsibilities that come down to me as an officer,” he said. “The job brings stressful demands that include meetings, trainings and attending calls sometimes at 2 a.m. and being valued.”

He’s dealing with the stress of a decision he made in September to step down as captain, the third ranking officer in the department.

An Oct. 16 letter from Castonguay confirmed his resignation from the Fire and Rescue Department, though Doyle said he only stepped down as captain.

In the letter, Castonguay said she asked him if he wanted a black helmet in order to continue serving as a regular firefighter.

“At that time, you stated you would ‘think about it,'” she wrote. “More than two weeks have passed with no communication by you to the command staff, and you have not reported for duty or given any indication that you wish to remain a member of the department. By virtue of your lack of communication, the town has no choice but to conclude that you are not committed to serving the department and that you have resigned from the department … effective on Oct. 16.”

Martin said the matter is being investigated.

Castonguay said by phone this week that she could not discuss the issue because it’s a personnel matter.


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