It used to be that when New Gloucester Fire and Rescue responded to your call, it was likely you’d recognize the responders because they were all local volunteers, neighbors and cousins and folks you’d bump into around town. Now, as everywhere else in rural America, things are changing.
It may be hard – but it’s not all bad! One of the very good things going on at our Fire/Rescue station these days is the inclusion of two live-in students from the Southern Maine Community College Fire Service degree program. The program places students with area fire stations to complement their class-room learning with real-life experience in every part of the fire service life, from responding to calls, to cleaning the station and cooking for the crew. The students get free lodging in single rooms at the station with cable, wi-fi, and dorm-like furnishings, but pay for their food and their tuition.
The more It’s been a tough year – a tough several years – heck, a tough decade or two for New Gloucester Fire and Rescue (NGFR). Systemic problems have been shared by fire/rescue departments nationwide. Firefighting has become more and more complicated due to changes in materials, hazards, technologies and federal requirements. At the same time, the hometown-centric culture that made volunteer fire departments viable has all but disappeared. Fire chiefs across the country have been sounding that alarm for years.
When a fire in a New Gloucester mobile home was reported in the middle of the night, it took three towns to muster enough firefighters to fight the blaze.
Poland Fire Chief Tom Printup, the first to arrive on scene because he lives nearby, said 12 firefighters responded to the fire on Quarry Road just after 2 a.m. Thursday. With the abandoned mobile home fully involved and already collapsing, firefighters could handle the call because they did not need to enter the building or rescue anyone. Keep reading Gillian Graham’s article in the Portland Press Herald.
A mobile home on Quarry Road in New Gloucester was destroyed in an early morning fire.
A passerby spotted the blaze at 342 Quarry Road and reported it to
authorities at 2:13 a.m. Thursday. When firefighters arrived on scene
minutes later, the home was engulfed in flames, said New Gloucester Fire
Chief Toby Martin.
“It seems it had been burning quite a bit before it was reported,” he
said. “It was 100 percent involved and collapsed as the first person
arrived on scene.”
The mobile home is believed to be abandoned, though power was still on in the home. Martin said firefighters had to wait for Central Maine Power to cut electricity to the building because power lines were on the ground. Read the full article in the Press Herald.
NEW GLOUCESTER – Selectmen on Monday evening dedicated the 223rd annual town report to Avis Thurston Ford, a founding member of New Gloucester Rescue in 1975 and longtime community volunteer.
“Avis is truly a gift to New Gloucester in so many ways,” New Gloucester Historical Society President Beverly Cadigan said during the dedication ceremony. “In the early 1970s, there was no New Gloucester Rescue. Avis was one of the 12 residents who took classes and qualified to become a basic EMT responder.” Keep reading Ellie Fellers’ piece in the Sun Journal.
New Gloucester’s search for a new fire chief to replace former chief James Ladewig will continue this week with additional candidate interviews scheduled for February 8, according to Town Manager Carrie Castonguay. To learn more about the status of the search and its background, read Ellie Fellers’s full story in the Sun Journal.
By Ellie Fellers, Special to the Sun Journal – November 19, 2018
Town Manager Carrie Castonguay announced at Monday’s selectmen meeting that Sherman Lahaie of Naples would serve as interim fire chief starting Monday.
Earlier this month, former Fire Chief James Ladewig returned to work after a paid administrative leave. He resigned the day after his return and after an investigation by Castonguay.
At the same time, Castonguay suspended Deputy Fire Chief Roger Levasseur, who has served the department for decades and was in charge of the department while Ladewig was on leave.
She said she could not discuss the issue because it is a personnel matter.
In other business Monday, the board reviewed capital improvements for public works, the transfer station, the Town Hall and library, fire and emergency medical services and administration, assessing and general government.
The Capital Improvement Committee ranks the projects and capital reserve accounts for the coming year and the board makes the final decision for funding requests to be presented to voters.
Some items for capital reserve accounts include heat pumps for cooling and supplemental heat, upgrades/replacement of the fire station computer server, replacing the town’s telephone system and a matching fund reserve for any grants the town receives.
Department budgets are due by Nov. 29. The town manager will distribute budget books to the board by Jan. 23, 2019.
Rupert Watson, left, Tom Blake, Phil Blake and David Watson, along with others, met Sept. 19 at the New Gloucester Veterans Monument to see the inscription for the Watsons’ uncle, a British WW II pilot in the Royal Navy who perished over the skies of New Gloucester during training maneuvers in 1943.
1943 air crash memorialized
Tragedy struck over the skies of New Gloucester’s Intervale region 75 years ago.
On Oct. 3, 1943, British pilots Lieutenant Commander Alfred Jack Sewell and Sub-Lieutenant David James Falshaw Watson took off from Brunswick Naval Air Station to practice training maneuvers. Apparently one plane came up under the other, causing a collision that resulted in the deaths of both pilots.
The plane crash occurred over the meadow behind Everett Stinchfield Blake’s farm on Penney Road. Blake’s son, Phil, presented this story to his fellow members of the New Gloucester Veterans Monument Committee, who decided that the two WWII British allies deserved to be recognized on the town’s Veterans Monument.
Rupert and David Watson learned about the tribute to their uncle through internet research. When Rupert and his wife, who are from New Zealand, were visiting his brother David in New York, they decided to visit the Veterans Monument. They contacted Jean Libby from the Veterans Monument Committee in advance.
On Sept. 19, Phil Blake’s son, Tom, presided over a gathering of the three members of the Watson family, plus 20 New Gloucester Historical Society members and local dignitaries to honor pilot David James Falshaw Watson and present the trio with memorabilia from the monument’s dedication ceremony in 2014.