ROQUE BLUFFS, Maine — Before this spring, if there were a fire in Roque Bluffs, local firefighters had to either wait for Jonesboro firefighters to arrive with the equipment or drive to Jonesboro and get it themselves.
But at the first and only fire earlier this year — a chimney fire — Jonesboro Assistant Fire Chief Wayne Hanscom, who lives in Roque Bluffs, was on the scene in less than four minutes.
“That’s quite a difference,” he said Sunday afternoon.
The difference is that Roque Bluffs volunteers have created a substation with the help of the Jonesboro Fire Department.
At a formal dedication ceremony Sunday, Roque Bluffs firefighters showed off their newly created station: one built completely through grants and donations. Even the trucks — a pumper and a forest truck — were donated.
The project was more than three years in the making, Jonesboro Chief Michael Schoppee said.
Recognizing the need for a local department, 11 men and women began training as volunteer firefighters in 2005.
Schoppee said former Jonesboro Fire Chief John Geel offered to help with the training, and all the Roque Bluffs members have received state certification.
The fire department operates under the auspices of the Jonesboro Fire Department; the Roque Bluffs facility is considered a substation.
“We will still have automatic backup,” Schoppee explained. That means that should there be a fire in either community, firefighters from both Roque Bluffs and Jonesboro will respond.
Schoppee is chief of both units, which include a combined force of 23 firefighters.
The roster at Jonesboro includes Assistant Chief Tim Look, Capt. Brandon Look and Firefighters Jeff Anderson, Bob Grant, Joel Hamilton, Kelly LaRochelle, Bruce Look, Christopher Look, Howard Morris, Dana Norton and Carol Smith.
The Roque Bluffs substation roster includes Hanscom, Capt. Joseph Thompson Sr., Nick Cianciola, Ben Crocker, Kenneth Getchell, Lisa Hanscom, Scott Hanscom, Roger Preston, Travis Preston and Joseph Thompson Jr.
Logan Preston, who died at sea in March 2009, was one of the original Roque Bluffs firefighters, the event program noted.
Schoppee said the CDBG grant in the amount of $162,500 was received in 2009, and construction began in the fall.
But long before the building was started, Hanscom began searching for trucks and equipment. Two trucks, hoses, air packs, turnout gear, radios and pumps were donated from many other departments.
“This was almost a statewide effort,” Schoppee said.
Also donating items were departments in Jonesboro, Bristol, Hermon, Hampden, Bar Harbor, Orrington, Columbia Falls and Columbia, along with the Penobscot Nation, Maine Forest Service, Washington County Emergency Management Agency, the town of Whitneyville and Barbara Anthony of Roque Bluffs.