FARMINGTON — Selectmen Tuesday night supported a plan that would provide fire services for Industry and approved a $24,339.19 payment to Franklin County for licensing and upgrades to communications services.

Voters in Industry will be asked to approve the agreement at the March 11 annual Town Meeting. If approved, Industry would pay Farmington $30,000 for one year of emergency response and administration. It includes $10,000 for administrative services and $20,000 to provide emergency response to calls and daily duties, according to the agreement.

Officials in Industry approached Farmington Fire Rescue last year, Fire Chief Tim “TD” Hardy said. The one-year plan would be from April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2024, with those dates based on the annual Town Meetings, he noted. Selectmen were asked their thoughts on whether the plan should go forward and be presented to Industry voters, he added.

Selectman Joshua Bell asked if $30,000 was enough.

With about 35 calls a year, Hardy thought it would be. Emergency medical services would only be included if NorthStar ambulance was not available, he said.

“I think it is a fair figure,” Hardy said. It would cover Farmington’s time, make sure there is enough staff and have decent coverage in Farmington, he added.


Selectman Stephan Bunker, who also serves on the fire department, was in favor. He said other departments in the area are struggling and it’s not getting any easier to keep volunteer departments going.

Chairman Matthew Smith spoke of efforts years ago to develop regional fire service. “I am glad to see this is starting to move forward,” he said. “The whole community will be better for it.”

In other business, after tabling it at their last meeting, selectmen agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding that would reimburse Franklin County $24,339.19 for licensing and upgraded public safety and informational services. Of that amount, $17,373.40 is for licenses and upgrades, $6,365.79 for maintaining the upgraded services and $600 for the subscription fee for those services. The funds would be due no later than Dec. 31, 2024.

“This next-generation computer-aided dispatch system is probably the most important piece of software and ultimately hardware that’s maintained by the county,” Police Chief Kenneth Charles said. Total cost of the project is $783,000, he noted. The $17,373.40 is a one-time expense; the rest involves annual costs currently being paid, he noted.

Commissioners approved spending up to $500,000 for this project with American Rescue Plan Act funds. The county’s Emergency Management Agency obtained $130,000 through Homeland Security, Tim Hardy, director of Franklin County EMA, said. Six police departments and four fire departments use the program, he noted.

Costs for each town are tiered, Charles said.


The dispatch system is useful for records management and accountability, Hardy said. “When we do have an incident that goes bad or people want to see a copy of those reports, we need to make sure all our T’s are crossed,” he noted.

In 2010, the system dispatch being used was antiquated and records were spotty, he said. More than $100,000 in grant funds were obtained, while Somerset County provided tech support and servers. In 2008 or 2009, Jay, Carrabassett Valley and the University of Maine at Farmington had started using a program through Androscoggin County. With Somerset’s support, all were brought together in Franklin, he said.

Later, Franklin hired its own IT person, got away from Somerset, Hardy said. Costs would be $2 million for another vendor to provide the same services as the one quoted, he noted.

“We are at a point where we either jump on the train or not,” Charles said. All hardware is at the county, there’s a dedicated IT person, Farmington definitely benefits, he added. “We reap a lot of IT support by entering with the county on this type of program.”

Selectman Bell said he didn’t understand why the cost wasn’t spread to all towns and wasn’t part of the county budget.

The county is picking up the full tab and is also buying the Sheriff’s Office portion, Chief TD Hardy said. “My records program isn’t Chief Charles’ record program, each is separate. The (county) will buy the CAD piece, we will all connect to it. Some fire departments use nothing, some do a little bit, some do more.”

Selectman Bunker said he appreciated the need for the program, but agreed with Bell on the funding mechanism. “I am a supporter of this. There are other discussions to be had,” he said.

With payment not due until December 2024, funding will come from that year’s operational budget.

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