Members of the Sabattus Fire Department pose in this undated photo. Though the department has always been made up of part-timers and volunteers, on Tuesday the public was introduced to four full-time firefighters, thanks to a federal grant covering their salaries and benefits for the next three years. Troy Cailler photo

SABATTUS — Adam Thacker, Kris Foster, Scott Girardin and Dustin Larochelle were welcomed by selectmen and the public Tuesday as the Fire Department’s newest full-time hires.

Fire Chief Troy Cailler introduced the four and touched on some of the department’s funding successes, the most recent being $2 million in federal funding for a new fire station.

“For the last three years we’ve been working to get back up to national standards and get the place back up and running,” Cailler said. “We’re at a really good place now where we have a lot of really dedicated members and a good philosophy on where we want to go.”

Thacker, Foster, Girardin and Larochelle started their first 24-hour shift Monday, thanks to a $1.15 million federal grant awarded in September. The Federal Emergency Management Agency money will cover salaries and benefits for the four over the next three years.

While he and his crew have their own vision, Cailler said the future will come down to what taxpayers want: Sabattus residents must decide. That’s why Cailler wants to hold a town hall meeting to get the public’s feelings on the department and whether they would support funding the construction of a new building, given the prospect they will have to decide in 2026 whether to keep four full-time firefighters on.

Cailler said there needs to be more education on what the department does, where they go, and when and why they need the equipment they do.

Selectmen were supportive of the new hires and Cailler’s hopes for the department and suggested resurrecting the fire department committee. The public outreach and education will be an important part of helping balance an understanding of the department and how it works and what people are willing to support for spending, they said.

A town hall meeting will be scheduled before a future Select Board meeting and before the annual Town Meeting.

“Let’s see how we can make it work and make sure we promote, promote, promote all the positive things and make sure any negative things or things that aren’t working are out there, transparent, and that we’re figuring out how to fix them,” said Town Manager Timothy Kane. “It’s almost an experiment. Let’s see what happens as we go because we’ve never been in this situation before.”

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