DURHAM — Durham Fire and Rescue Chief Robert Tripp told selectmen Tuesday that 20% of all department calls are for mutual aid.

So far this year, Durham has responded to Lisbon fire and emergency medical needs 40 times and Lisbon has returned the favor 30 times.

Tripp said since these things never occur evenly, he considers the two towns’ relationship healthy, but the same thing cannot be said for relationships with other towns.

“We do have an understanding over there, with the Lisbon EMS chief, that we don’t bill them and it’s a sort of mutual (agreement),” Tripp said. “But Topsham went over like 50 times to a local community and only received eight in return.”

Selectman Rich George said he is concerned Durham might at some point be on the hook for responding to towns which would typically be covered by other adjacent departments. Lisbon’s first go-to for mutual aid is United Ambulance Services, which Lewiston contracts for its emergency medical service needs, but Durham is increasingly being called out to back up Lisbon due to the private company’s unavailability.

There is an understanding throughout Androscoggin Valley when mutual aid becomes grossly uneven, it is not a surprise to see a bill in the mail, Tripp said, but Lisbon has not approached that point. Both towns continue to work well together.


Durham Fire and Rescue is not having as many fires as in the past, but when there are such emergencies, it needs surrounding towns to respond without question.

“I say it for the public at home who might not realize on a cold Tuesday night that there’s eight to 10 gentlemen standing out there helping their neighbors right now,” he said. “We’re a good neighbor and I like to keep it in good standing. We’re not relying on others as much as others may be relying on us . . . The gung-ho people really want to help whether that’s Durham or Freeport or Lisbon. They just want to help and do their job.”

In other news, selectmen approved up to $7,600 for a new wide format scanner. Code Enforcement Officer Alan Plummer said the scanner will enable him to swiftly digitize town mapping documents, which are beginning to clutter the Town Office and take up working space town staff needs.

The scanner will cost $7,120 and an additional $395 for yearly maintenance. The town could also lease to own the equipment over a 40- or 60-month payment cycle. George said the lease option looks more like a “rent-to-own” deal and that it would be better to purchase the scanner outright since the municipal capital account has the money.

“I did ask for samples which I got,” Plummer said. “I had them scan some typical kind of stuff . . . They showed me a video of them scanning it. It’s super fast and the quality is perfect. It’s an exact copy, so I’m happy with the quality of the scanner.”

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