To the Editor:

We offer our deepest gratitude to the Farmington Fire Department, under the leadership of Chief T.D. Hardy; and to firefighters from at least eight neighboring Franklin County towns, for their timely, courageous, and skillful response to a fire on our Farmington property on a winter night in February. Those other departments represented Chesterville, Industry, Jay, New Sharon, New Vineyard, Strong, Temple, and Wilton.

These firefighters saved our lives. They saved the major part of our home. No one, either in our family, or among the firefighters was injured. This was a remarkable achievement, in difficult conditions, on a country road, far from the nearest hydrant.

That night, while we were asleep, smoke alarms which we had installed in every room in the house, went off. We awoke to discover the barn on fire, and headed for our front door, pre-planned as a fire exit, free of obstacles, just as a Farmington Police Officer was banging on the door. We escaped our house to see fire trucks already on the scene, and more arriving.

We learned later that near neighbors Lucia and Peter Swallow; and another neighbor, Jullian Merrill, a junior at Mt. Blue High School; had called 911 moments before. For their quick action we are forever grateful, and we have told them so in person.

In the hours and days that followed we have known extraordinary kindness and generosity from hundreds of people – neighbors, friends, people we barely knew, and even those who formerly were strangers, but are strangers to us no more. Such a caring response is a sign of a remarkable community, true neighborliness.


We are so grateful to live in this Western Maine community, our home for over 40 years, where we have raised four children, enjoyed visits from five grandchildren, and sought to contribute to the well-being of others as community members.

One major lesson from this fire incident is how essential it is to have smoke alarms throughout a house, and that they be in excellent working condition. Have a fire exit plan, with alternate exits, and keep those exits clear of obstructions. If you would like help in choosing smoke alarms, knowing where to place them, or even with having funds to pay for them, call the Farmington Fire Department : (207) 778-3235, or your local Fire Chief. Check your smoke alarms now, today, please!

A further “thank you” goes to the people of Farmington – and of surrounding towns – who provide the financial support that our fire departments need to purchase well-functioning equipment and to provide funds for firefighter training at the highest levels. My dad was a volunteer fire fighter in the town of Chesterfield, New Hampshire. My mother served on the Fire Department Auxiliary.

In my younger years I was a volunteer fire fighter in the small community of Rough Rock, Arizona. I welcome readers to consider becoming a volunteer fire fighter in your town. You may save a life, or a way of life. You will meet fine people, and contribute to a greater good.

Be safe, and let us all continue to take good care of one another.

Doug and Mary Dunlap


Comments are not available on this story.