FARMINGTON — During a meeting Tuesday, March 3, between Farmington Fire Rescue personnel and selectmen, several concerns were raised and most felt that a strategic plan was needed.

The meeting was called after Farmington Fire Rescue proposed increasing its budget by $270,490 or 50.54%. Most of the increase comes from adding two more full-time firefighters and one per diem worker to provide 24-hours, seven days a week coverage.

Acting Fire Chief Tim Hardy said there had been discussions with some fire department personnel about its future.

Deputy Chief Clyde S. Ross said Farmington had about 7,700 people according to the last census. He asked if there was a projection for population or business growth on the horizon.

Town Manager Richard Davis said in the last, 2010 Census, Farmington gained 350 people, a 4% increase. He doesn’t expect to lose a significant number of people.

“One good thing, we have stability. We haven’t had factory closings,” he said. “More significant than the number of people is how the characteristics of the town have changed over the years. We’ve become a service center, more like a small city. We have a larger daytime population than nighttime because of our largest employers the hospital, Hannafords, the college.


“I tried to track that a few years ago. There were at least 1,000 in town working who didn’t live here. Those folks come from all over. It puts demands on any community by not paying taxes.

“More people are on the roads, they take a beating. With a changing population, all town departments have to change and adapt.”

Selectman and firefighter Stephan Bunker said one thing he looks at for the financial health and well being of the town is the number of storefronts that are open on Broadway and Main streets.

“We’re one of the few communities that still has a vibrant downtown,” he said. “We worried the downtown would be affected when the big box stores came in on the Wilton Road but that wasn’t the case.”

Firefighter Junior Turner said people from other towns like coming to Farmington, they liked the atmosphere, when he was in business.

“Since that time the money put into lower Front street and the buildings that have gone in there has added a big plus to this town,” he said. “I love the street lights.


“I always got compliments on the town, It’s definitely grown in the last few years.”

Selectman Chairman Joshua Bell said renting upstairs helps downtown business owners.

“A vibrant university will help the downtown a lot,” he said.

Ross said people are building houses in places not thought of when he was younger.

“The town is going away from the center,” he said. “It requires the fire dept. to think about how do you service those areas, are they building roads according to ordinances, do we have the apparatus to get there, longer service times for us. Do we continue to rely on volunteers or go with more full-timing? The trend in most fire departments today is volunteerism is not there, or locally within the community.

Davis noted that Norridgewock, with half the population of Farmington, recently hired two full-time firefighters.


Selectman Michael Fogg noted meetings were held several years ago to discuss a regional approach to fire protection.

“What we’re lacking is a commissioner/coordinator, someone with an interest in fire protection to coordinate, set up meetings, make plans,” he said, “so no one has any more say than anyone else.

“It would benefit everybody and would cost everybody money to do that.”

Fogg suggested two representatives from each local fire department would be involved in the hiring/firing process.

Bunker said York County has hired a county administrator who reports to the Emergency Management Agency director.

Firefighter Peter Wade said the time may be right to consider a system similar to North Star.


“It took a long time, giving up here to gain there in the long run, to put it together,” he said.

Selectman Scott Landry said the county should take some interest.

“As we grow our fire protection other towns are going to depend more on us, at some point realize they’re going to have to help invest.”

Fire Chief Terry Bell said, “Before any of this is going to happen, we need to realize we have a problem. I believe a lot of small communities really don’t feel they have a problem.

“People don’t want to give up their individuality. Until they realize there’s a problem, nothing will change.”

Bunker said, “If something significant happens somebody may be coming in, telling us what we are going to do, when.


“A lot of people don’t want to admit they have a staffing problem.

“Other towns are benefiting from a quick, active mutual aide but they aren’t supporting it financially. It’s far outstripping the tradition of mutual aid, tipped way out of balance.”

Bunker told of a fatality in the midcoast region last fall that might have had a different outcome if trained personnel had been available to respond to the call.

“I never want to hear that happen around here. We’re this close to having it happen here,” he said. “If all towns around us put money together we could do things smarter, more cost-effectively.”

Captain TD Hardy said the department needs a strategic plan when talking about regionalization, a  road map to identify where it’s going in 5, 10 or 20 years.

“We lack that big time,” he said. “What are the community’s expectations, the level of service they expect?”


If voters approve the fire department’s funding request at town meeting on March 30, changes will have to be made at the fire station.

The third floor meeting room would be converted to a dormitory, as was originally intended when the complex was built 40 years ago.

Fire Chief Bell said down the road it might be necessary to move the town office and use the entire building for the fire dept.

Another suggestion was publishing something similar to the Sheriff’s report that would give information about the number and types of calls responded to.

Landry said, “People don’t know what you do. Talk about how people are surprised at how quick you respond. The public needs to know.”

Chief Bell said the department doesn’t brag, its biggest fault.


Firefighter Davis Ballard said other departments have active Facebook pages.

“People like it when their fire department is active through Facebook, gives them a connection,” he said.

One firefighter said Farmington is different. They take that community aspect, want everyone around them to be better.

“Regional training is working well,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to build bonds with people from other towns, keep those relationships.

“If we don’t have a common goal what’s the vision. Mine may be different than yours.

“Getting people to the table is the hardest part.”

Captain Hardy said., “We need a strategic plan now more than ever.”

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