PASSADUMKEAG, Maine — Burlington, Lowell and Passadumkeag volunteers enrolled in the first joint firefighter training program among the three towns will finish their final exercise together with a live burn Saturday on Pleasant Street.
The volunteers will begin the exercises within an abandoned house at 8:30 a.m. Residents are invited to attend, especially those seeking to become volunteers, said Dorothy A. Hammond, public information officer and administrative assistant for the Burlington Municipal Fire Department.
The training exercise, the trainees’ graduation next month and an agreement to have the three towns fight all structure fires together are part of an effort to combine and strengthen their fire service, Hammond said.
They should give residents the best service they have had in years, she added.
“The uniqueness of the whole thing is that it’s not just Burlington — it’s Burlington, Passadumkeag and Lowell,” Hammond said Thursday. “We will be training together, working together, utilizing each other’s equipment and perhaps down the road, if we were to get a Jaws [of Life rescue device], it would be shared among the departments, too.
“We think it’s a great asset to all three communities,” Hammond said of the joint fire service class. “We are talking about men and women who knew almost nothing about fire service and now we have them driving trucks and putting out fires.”
“Most importantly, it’s manpower,” Burlington Fire Chief John Smith said. “Everybody has limited manpower. We have trained together and gotten together enough so they’ll know what they are going to do when they go out together on a call.”
The Burlington and Lowell municipal fire departments were formed earlier this year to replace the Triangle Fire Department, which covered those two towns for many years but folded for lack of members on Dec. 30, 2009.
There are 23 volunteers in the combined Firefighter I training class, Hammond said.
As of Thursday, Burlington had about 25 volunteer members on its roster. Lowell has about 14 members, Lowell Fire Chief Rick Smart said. Passadumkeag Fire Chief Brent Faloon could not be reached for comment.
Besides creating more volunteers, the joint training class “is less expensive than sending [trainees] somewhere to do a class like this,” Smart said. “Between the three towns, there are enough instructors so that other than buying some supplies, it really doesn’t cost us much to do this.”
A fire in Burlington on Nov. 30, in which a house was demolished, was the first test of the combined response agreement, and the crews from the three towns “worked beautifully together,” Smart said.
“There was no hesitation with them,” he added. “If you are working with people you don’t know, you are going to be a little leery until you see what the other guys are capable of. There was none of that. They grouped right up and went right to work. More towns that work together should hold training like this.”
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 2000 census.
Burlington is almost directly east of Howland and Gristmill Pond off Route 188 and had a population of 384 in the 2000 census. Passadumkeag is adjacent to the southern portions of Enfield and Howland and west of Burlington and Lowell. Its population in the 2000 census was 441.