By Greg Bennett
Concerns about the future of the local fire department saw community members come out in force at the Port Clyde Fire Hall this week.
Organized by a group of concerned firefighters and community members, the Sunday, March 2 meeting saw Barrington Municipal Warden Eddie Nickerson on the hot seat as people questioned how a proposed amalgamation of fire departments; changes in training requirements and a move to pay for fire services through an area rate would impact local volunteer fire departments.
Nickerson, who pointed out that fire services cost the municipality $750,000 annually, is among those who believes an amalgamation of fire departments in Port Clyde, Port LaTour and Barrington is needed for several reasons; both logistical and financial.
The Port Clyde Fire Department, like several in Shelburne County, is facing challenges as it struggles be a viable service. It needs more volunteers and it needs more money.
To make matters worse, the department recently lost one of its two trucks in a crash and in the meantime is using a loaner truck from another local department.
But there is pride within the community about its department, a service that was born in 1969 through the efforts of its first volunteers.
A history of the department was proudly read during the meeting to the crowd’s applause.
The department serves one of the largest areas in Shelburne County, including some parts of the Municipality of Shelburne.
Today, new standards and rules combined with a loss of volunteers leaving for jobs out west has put a strain on the resources of local fire departments.
Former Port Clyde Chief Peter Stoddard stressed that proposed rules for departments that would require all volunteers to have level 1 certification within two years would have a negative impact on recruitment.
“It doesn’t do much to encourage volunteers,” he said.
Warden Nickerson said council and the committee that oversees fire services in western Shelburne County would be asked to revisit some of those decisions, most made in the effort to improve fire services.
He asked community members to write their concerns down over changes to fire services.
“Give them to me and we will address them,” he said.