Dispute with town officials settled, 18 FFs reinstated after mass resignation
The 18 firefighters had resigned at a meeting last week due to the town manager overturning the fire chief's decision on a personnel issue
Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine
PARIS, Maine — A dispute between the Fire Department and town officials was settled Monday night, but neither side provided details that resulted in the reinstatement of 18 firefighters who walked out last week.
“Paris Fire Department is back to full capacity,” Chief Mark Blaquiere said after the closed-door session at the Town Office. “All 18 guys have been reinstated, and the town is protected by their guys.”
He wouldn’t say what, if any, agreement was reached between the Fire Department and Town Manager Dawn Noyes and selectmen. He simply said that during the meeting, firefighters decided to “come back to work.”
Selectmen Peter Kilgore, Chris Summers, Carlton Sprauge, Scott McElravy and Chairman Rusty Brackett also declined to comment.
Eighteen firefighters resigned Wednesday after Noyes and Human Resource Manager Paula Andrews reversed a decision on a personnel issue Blaquire made previously, according to firefighter Jon Longley.
Blaquiere and former Fire Chief Brad Frost did not walk out.
Before Monday’s meeting, a group of about 20 people supporting the department rallied outside of the Town Office. For Kerri Ayers, the show of support was personal.
She said that when she rolled her car over on Route 117, the Fire Department was there. When she found her basement full of smoke, firefighters were there in less than 10 minutes.
“Mutual aid is great, but it was Paris Fire that was there first,” she said. “To know that my fire department was there for me (is) less anxiety-provoking.”
Women from the local AMVETS Post Ladies Auxiliary skipped their bingo night to hold signs in support of the chief and fire department Monday.
“I think they do a great job,” Pat Roy aid. ” I hope everything gets settled, and everything remains the way it is.”
Ayers echoed that sentiment.
“I support the Paris Fire Department,” she said. “They’ve been there when I needed them. I didn’t feel it was beneficial to the town of Paris that 18 firefighters stepped down when they did for any reason whatsoever. I want them to know they’re supported 100 percent. I want a quick resolution, no matter what.”
Blaquiere said he appreciated those who came to show support.
“I want to thank all you guys and all the townspeople for supporting the Fire Department,” he said. “We’ve got a great department here, and we’re going to move forward here on out.”
©2020 the Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)