Jay Fire Rescue Chief Mike Booker, right, updates Jay selectpersons Monday night on the success of the on-call program that began in November. Capt. Darren Roundy, left, looks on. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

JAY — The Fire Rescue Department will continue its on-call program for emergency calls during weekday hours through June 30 and will budget $20,800 for a full-year beginning July 1 for 2021-22.

Selectpersons unanimously approved the proposal Monday night.

The board had approved a pilot program Nov. 9 in an effort to ensure firefighters were available to respond to emergency calls during daytime hours Monday through Friday. The two firefighters on call each day make $4 an hour for 10 hours or $40 a day. If there is an emergency call, the stipend is in addition to their regular firefighter pay.

The first day of the trial period, there was a structure fire, Fire Rescue Chief Mike Booker told selectpersons.

The on-call program is working really well, he said.

The first week following approval, four shifts were filled. After that, each weekday shift was full, according to data provided by Booker.

Jay had the third highest call rate in Franklin County in 2020 with 411 calls. Rangeley had 502 calls, Farmington had 484 and Wilton had 261. Rangeley covers over 600 square miles in northern Franklin and Oxford counties. Neighboring Livermore Falls in northern Androscoggin County, had 165 calls. Some of the calls were related to emergency medical services.

Farmington officials started out like Jay. They got their first full-time chief in 2000 and has seven full-time staff members including the chief, Booker said in November. Rangeley has a full-time fire chief and recently got its first full-time firefighter.

Of the 29 firefighters who are on the department in Jay, five live out of town, Capt. Darren Roundy said. About half of the firefighters signed up to participate in the program.

Booker said he may overrun his payroll line this year but he should have enough to cover it in his fuel line.

“We’re going to be close,” he said.

Roundy believes it has sparked some interest in people to show up, he said.

“Forty dollars is a lot of money,” Booker said.

One of those needed to respond on each shift is a firetruck driver. Junior firefighters cannot participate, he said.

The cost for two firefighters at 10 hours each Monday through Friday is $400 a week.

In another department matter, selectpersons voted to increase firefighters’ base pay by 15 cents an hour to compensate for an increased minimum wage.

On Jan. 1, the minimum wage was raised from $12 an hour to $12.15 an hour.

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