LIVERMORE FALLS — The town manager and interim fire chief are renewing talks with Jay about a possible collaboration of firefighting services.

Among the options up for consideration are the sharing of equipment, firefighters or officers, and the possibility of appointing a fire chief who could oversee both towns.

Jay Fire Rescue Department has put out help wanted signs along Route 4 to try and get more firefighters. This sign is in front of Jay’s No. 2 station in southern Jay. Jay and Livermore Falls are struggling with staffing shortages. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

Like many other fire departments in the state, Livermore Falls and Jay are dealing with staffing shortages. The Jay department recently put out help wanted signs along Route 4 in an effort to gain firefighters.

In August, the Jay Select Board voted to increase Fire Rescue Chief Mike Booker’s annual pay to $25,000. The increase came with the understanding that Booker would be on call weekdays for emergencies about 170 days a year, and he would also take on extra duties due to the staff shortage.

When Livermore Falls former Fire Chief Edward Hastings IV took a job in June to return to the Office of State Fire Marshal, selectmen on June 29 appointed Deputy Chief Scott Shink to be the interim Fire Rescue chief for six months.

The decision was made to give the town time to find a candidate to serve as chief on a long-term basis.

Shink told Livermore Falls selectmen Tuesday that he received a resignation from Assistant Chief Tyler Poulin, who is moving, while Lt. Stuart Corlett has accepted a position in Aroostook County. Corlett stated he will stay on the department for now, but he will split time with northern Maine, as well. The department also currently has four employees in “support” roles.

“That leaves us with 25 members, 14 who have limited activity and 11 doing the work,” Shink told the board. “I am here to ask where to go from here.”

The department had a shed fire Aug. 3 very close to a home at 126 Pine Ridge, in East Livermore village, according to Shink. The Livermore Falls department responded with four firefighters but no one was qualified to drive a fire truck, he said. Jay Engine 3 and Livermore fire trucks handled the call.

In 2015, a joint committee was set up to look at collaborating fire services between Livermore Falls and Jay. The committee was made up of two selectmen from each town, both town managers and fire chiefs.

In Jay, Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere’s “About the Agenda” report on Dec. 28, 2015, she wrote the committee had met and had become aware of a grant available through the state that could be used to fund collaborative efforts that will “ultimately save taxpayers’ money.”

At the time, the Livermore Falls Fire Rescue Station had structural deficiencies and needed to be made structurally sound to house its fire trucks. The trucks were being stored around town and in Jay because of structural deficiencies at the station.

An idea was to share Jay’s Station 2 in Chisholm Village in the south end of Jay. The two fire stations are about 1½ miles apart. This would have meant Livermore Falls would not have to fix its existing station and would allow town officials to look into the option of establishing a station in East Livermore village. It would also allow the committee to look at future consolidation of apparatus and manpower.

However, the Livermore Falls board voted to do a study in mid-December 2015 to find a minimal fix for the station to house the trucks. The decision effectively put an end to collaboration talks at the time. Later residents also voted to approve a station renovation project.

Nearly six years later, Livermore Falls is again thinking of trying to collaborate with Jay on fire services.

Livermore Falls fixed its main fire station and a committee is working on plans to build a one-bay substation in East Livermore village, which voters approved in November 2020.

The two towns already share a sewer superintendent, which both town boards approved in April.

Livermore Falls Town Manager Amanda Allen said Tuesday collaboration could happen again.

LaFreniere and the Jay Select Board will discuss the possible collaboration at 6 p.m. Monday at the Jay Town Office.

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