LOWELL, Maine — With new Fire Chief Rick Smart having some recruiting success, town officials are drafting an ordinance that would create a Lowell Fire Department, if residents approve.
“We do very much need and want a municipal fire department,” Selectman John Tarleton said Wednesday. “We have had two meetings with him so far, and he seems to be doing a great job for us. We are hoping we will have a special town meeting perhaps even as early as April.”
Hired by the Board of Selectmen on Feb. 3, Smart is crafting a proposed budget and plan to equip and operate a fire department that he will present to residents at a special meeting where they also will vote on the proposed ordinance. No date has been set.
About 30 residents voted at a mid-January special town meeting to allow the board to hire a chief and to pay for interim emergency fire protection services from the town surplus, plus carry over any unexpended amounts into next year’s fire protection budget.
Though the Triangle Fire Department hasn’t gone out of business, it no longer is answering fire calls because of a lack of volunteer firefighters. Its few remaining members announced Dec. 30 that the department would be standing down until further notice.
The Howland Fire Department has covered Lowell since.
Burlington, which also was covered by Triangle, has a contract with Lincoln Fire Department that will cover that town’s emergencies. Town officials await a similar contract with Howland, Tarleton said.
A deputy chief with Howland’s department and a paid firefighter with Lincoln’s, Smart said he has had several people express interest in joining a town department. Tarleton placed the number at seven and said Smart was shooting for 10.
“It looks like there will be a good turnout, but until we go through the process and get voter approval, we are not moving forward with anything,” Smart said Wednesday.
The town will hold an open house at the Lowell Fire Department building, which adjoins the town office, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27. Residents and interested firefighters are invited. The meeting will give residents a chance to meet Smart, Tarleton said.
Except for a pickup truck with some specialized gear, the town lacks firefighting equipment, Smart and Tarleton said. Smart’s plan will address that. Smart said the town might need a year to fully form a department.
Lowell is a small town southeast of Cold Stream Pond, Enfield and Howland, which are off Interstate 95 Exit 217 in northern Penobscot County. It had a population of 291 people in the most recent census.