Neighboring Maine towns consider sharing fire services amid staff shortages
The towns of Jay and Livermore Falls had previously discussed sharing services in 2015
Donna M. Perry
Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine
JAY, Maine — Selectpersons said Monday they are willing to talk to their Livermore Falls counterparts about sharing fire services, but they need to know what the neighboring town is looking for.
"I'm more than willing to listen, again," Jay Chairman Terry Bergeron said.
The board decided to let the town managers get together and have Livermore Falls Town Manager Amanda Allen set up a meeting.
Vice Chairman Tim DeMillo said he would like to have the discussion done in a committee format like what was done in 2015, he said.
A committee made up of two selectmen each from Livermore Falls and Jay, the two town managers and the two fire chiefs had many meetings in 2015 to find ways to collaborate. The one thing that they could share previously was Jay's No. 2 Fire Rescue Station in the southern part of town about 1 1/2 miles from the Livermore Falls' station.
At the time, the Livermore Falls' station had structural deficiencies and the firetrucks could not be housed there. A couple of Livermore Falls' trucks were housed in two bays at the Jay station. Other trucks were stored in different places, including on private property.
The idea then was Livermore Falls would not have to fix its station and concentrate on building one in the East Livermore village section of town. Jay has a second fire station in North Jay. The talks fell apart when Livermore Falls selectmen voted in December 2015 to do a study on its station to determine what needed to be done to repair it. Voters later agreed to fix the station.
At its Sept. 7 meeting the Livermore Falls board discussed renewing talks with Jay to look for opportunities to share fire services, including equipment, firefighters or officers. It was later mentioned that it could possibly be sharing a fire chief. Livermore Falls has an interim chief and is looking for a fire chief since former Chief Edward Hastings IV left in June to be a state fire investigator again.
Both departments are dealing with staffing shortages.
"I like that idea of merging as much as we can," Jay Selectperson Lee Ann Dalessandro said, but "don't want it all on our people."
Jay and Livermore Falls agreed to share Jay's sewer superintendent in April. Superintendent Mark Holt oversees both Jay and Livermore Falls sewer collection systems, employees and the Livermore Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant.
In August, the Jay Select Board voted to increase Fire Rescue Chief Mike Booker's annual stipend to $25,000. The increase came with the understanding that Booker would be on call weekdays for emergencies about 170 days a year, and he would also take on extra duties due to the staff shortage.
Selectperson Gary McGrane said Booker has another position on the Mexico Fire Department.
Booker's full-time job is in Mexico where he works three days on and six days off in a rotation, Booker wrote in a text on Monday night. It averages about nine days a month, he wrote. He resigned as deputy fire chief in Buckfield after his duties in Jay increased last month.
(c)2021 the Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)