ISLAND FALLS, Maine — If you like snowmobiles, high speeds and socializing, the Island Falls Fire Department has an event for you.
Firefighters will hold the first IFFD Radar Races on Saturday at Mattawamkeag Lake. The event starts at 10 a.m., with snowmobile registrations and inspections at 9 a.m. Admission is free. About 200 people and as many as 60 sleds are expected, Deputy Fire Chief Paul Breton II said Thursday.
“Everybody up here likes to race and everybody likes fast sleds,” Breton said, “so we should get a pretty good-sized crowd.”
To help make the event unique, snowmobilers also will get the chance to drag race on a 660-foot ice track, Breton said.
“With the law getting stricter, you really can’t do that kind of thing anymore,” Breton said. “The state has really put a hard blanket on that.”
But the department worked with state officials to make it possible.
A pig roast, bonfire and radar races around the lake area also will be featured. Although the event will compete with a sled race on Saturday in Lincoln, among other things, Breton said he hopes to see a turnout large enough to justify running the event next year.
The event’s goal: to raise funds for firefighter training.
Firefighter training is getting increasingly onerous for firefighters, and quite expensive, too, he said.
“It’s crucial to the town that we raise more money for this,” Breton said, “especially because you really can’t find volunteer firefighters anymore who are trained. There really is so much training and classroom time that you have to take that less and less people are getting involved with volunteer departments.”
The department serves Island Falls, Dyer Brook and Crystal with a full-time paramedic ambulance service and firefighting. It has two full-time paramedics and 18 part-time firefighters and paramedics.