Months ahead of expectations, the new Burlington and Lowell municipal fire departments will begin handling at least some emergencies in their towns today, officials said Wednesday.
Roland Minott, chairman of Burlington’s Board of Selectmen, said he was pleased at Burlington Municipal Fire Department Chief John Smith’s progress in creating a town replacement for the Triangle Fire Department.
“It’s superb — not only John but all of the members,” Minott said.
Burlington fire and the Lowell Municipal Fire Department grew from Triangle, which stopped covering both towns on Dec. 30 due to a lack of volunteer firefighters. The towns’ residents voted to create fire departments after hiring the Howland and Lincoln fire departments to provide temporary emergency service.
Lowell’s department, which has 11 members, almost all with at least basic state firefighter certifications, will take over entirely from Howland’s in covering all town emergencies, Lowell Chief Rick Smart said.
“We can handle most anything that happens on the fire grounds,” Smart said. “We don’t have all the equipment we want, but it’s on order and we have enough to do at least the basic job.”
With 22 members, Burlington will back up Lincoln at all calls. Burlington will primarily handle downed power lines and small brush fires, for example, while Lincoln will be the primary responder to calls involving interior attacks on structure fires, as only Smith and Burlington Deputy Chief Frank Hammond have basic certifi-cations, Smith said.
“We are taking the first step, if you will,” Smith said. “I think we are doing very well, but we have a lot of members with very little or no training.”
Burlington will be training regularly, Smith said, and will slowly assume primary responsibilities in handling all town emergencies as its firefighters gain the proper state certifications or training.
At least some of both towns’ firefighters will be paid by the call, Smart and Smith said, and have all of the basic equipment they need.
“It’s been good. It has gone quicker than I expected,” Smart said. “We have an excellent group of people out there. We really don’t have any green people, and everybody works well together. This has all gone together a lot faster than anyone expected.”
Lowell’s contract with Howland was due to expire in August or September, while Burlington’s deal with Lincoln lapses by Oct. 1. Burlington and Lowell plan to train together and sign mutual aid contracts, the chiefs said.
Lowell is a small town southeast of Cold Stream Pond, Enfield and Howland, which are off Exit 217 of Interstate 95 in northern Penobscot County. It had a population of 291 people in the most recent census.
Burlington is almost directly east of Howland and Gristmill Pond off Route 188 and had a population of 384 as of the last census.