Standing Monday in front of the new three-story, $5.4-$5.5 million Central Fire Station in Falmouth Street area of Rumford are Sen. Lisa Keim, R-Oxford, Rumford Fire Chief Chris Reed and Rep. Rachel Henderson, R-House District 78. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — When the new Central Fire Station in the Falmouth Street area is completed in June, it will also house the Maine’s first safe haven ‘baby box,” according to Fire Chief Chris Reed.

On Monday, Reed gave a tour of the facility with Sen. Lisa Keim, R-Oxford and Rep. Rachel Henderson, R-House District 78, who announced the kickoff of a petition drive.

Keim said that baby boxes were enacted through LD 560 in 2021, but that the Department of Health and Human Services failed to begin the rulemaking process.

She explained the petition process.

“We have to get 150 signatures, requesting that the Department of Human Services commence rule making on the baby box.”
Keim and Henderson will be collecting petition signatures from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday during the state’s presidential primaries, which includes the American Legion in Rumford, 184 Congress St.

Once they get those signatures, Keim said action would be whenever they decide to prioritize it. “We’d be working with the Governor’s office to try to expedite the rule making. There’s nothing saying that the box can’t go in anyway. The law is in place. It’s an absolutely legal device. It was passed unanimously by the House and the Senate.”


Keim noted that the petition process is similar to how they got the EV mandate considered by the state, the standards that would set Maine’s clean emissions for cars the same as California.

Reed said that once they learned about it, “We’ve always want to have a ‘baby box’ for the new fire station. And now’s the time to do it, while it’s under construction.”

He explained how it would work.

There will be an unlocked door at the front side of the fire station, with the baby box sitting just inside. “As soon as they open the door, a silent alarm goes off. Once you pass the baby through the infra-red, which you can’t see, a second alarm goes off. Then, when they close the door, it automatically locks and our pagers go off,” said Reed.

He said this is intended for babies 31 days old or younger. “That’s going to be tough to manage. If someone drops off a four month old, we’re still going to take him.”
The chief said that once the baby is dropped in there, “what we do is make sure it stays alive long enough for Med-Care (Ambulance) to get here, put it in the ambulance and take it to Rumford Hospital. It’s just a location to drop it, other than just a dumpster.”

The cost for the baby box, along with the technology, will be $18,000, to be paid entirely by donations.


Donations can be made directly by stopping at the current Central Fire Station at 151 Congress St. in Rumford, or by mailing a check to the Rumford Fire Department (subject: baby box), 151 Congress St., Rumford, ME 04276.

Reed noted, “We have a lot of poor people here, and a lot of drug use…it’s just an avenue to keep the kid alive to get it the correct care. And it wouldn’t just be serving Rumford. It will serve Mexico, Peru, Dixfield, Byron — the whole River Valley.”

Keim added that along with the poverty is a lack of reliable transportation. “If you look around, this is the perfect location to have that life-saving device.”

She said it’s important to get the word out to the community about this. “If a woman comes to that really, really tough decision, and she cannot take care of her baby and finds the responsibilities of motherhood is too much, in addition to whatever else she has going on in her life, this is an easy and very safe way out.”

Keim said, “I’m super excited to have it be going in here, and we’re actively fundraising for this right now.”

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