Recently both the Press Herald and the KJ online ran a news article highlighting the plight of small town fire departments in Maine and our trouble recruiting volunteers. It painted a bleak yet accurate picture of some of the troubles most volunteer fire departments face. We are aging and there are fewer of us, and we could use your help.
Volunteer firefighters are a time honored tradition in this country. It is reported that Ben Franklin started the first volunteer firefighter department in this country in Philadelphia in 1736. At one time in America, we had over 830,000 volunteer firefighters. Currently, we are down to 780,000. This may not seem like a great drop, however during the same time we have added over 34,000,000 houses that we have to defend with 50,000 fewer people (NFPA statistics). We are stretched further, we are greyer around the temples, but we are still here.
To address these challenges, we have formed an automatic mutual aide agreement since 1975 with the surrounding communities of Fayette, Wayne, Manchester, Readfield, and Vienna. These are neighboring towns' firefighters who come to our aid, and in return when they have emergencies we come to theirs. Working together with these towns, we find ways to target our equipment needs to eliminate some of the redundancies in our equipment purchases. Not every town is equipped with the same gear and the same trucks, we do this to spread out our resources and ensure that even with our limited budgets, we will be able to respond with the equipment you need. This enables us to continue to meet the needs of our communities by sharing equipment and manpower and minimizing the amount of financial resources our towns and villages need to commit to have this protection.
We do on occasion still need to replace trucks. Mount Vernon has three fire trucks, and we attempt to replace a truck every ten years. The current truck we need your help replacing is 30 years old. It has been a great truck, but there are very few 30 year old vehicles on the road, and even fewer that are so critical to the safety of a community. Our town insurance rating has dropped since 2005 and in order to continue the towns class rating or even drop it lower, we need to continue to improve our fleet. We need your help and support to get the new truck.
The specifications for the new proposed fire truck have been in the planning with the vision of supporting our town for the next 20 to 30 years from an essential aspect. We are looking towards a delivery date of 2016.
There is a popular perception of firefighters as young men running into burning buildings. What many people don't realize is that firefighters come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and genders. No matter what your abilities or skills are, there is a place for you in the fire stations and on the fire provided protective equipment ensures, you are ready to handle any task you are asked to perform. If you are interested in joining the fire department, go to the “Mount Vernon Fire Department” web page with a link to our email. We would value the opportunity to meet with you and show you around your fire station some time. With your help, we can continue to meet our towns' needs for the foreseeable future.
The Mount Vernon Fire Department