Editors Note: This article was published originally in the Lincoln News by Tony Hallett.
PASSSADUMKEAG and HOWLAND – Fire Chief Nick Rossignol of the Passadumkeag Volunteer Fire Department was excited about Tuesday night’s joint training with Howland as his team was expected to employ new air packs.
Rossignol said he was able to purchase four new 2016 MSA packs with money left over in his department’s budget. The purchase brings his department in line with equipment already employed by both Greenbush and Howland.
“They are lighter, more ergonomically friendly,” Rossignol said.
The old packs will be sold, with those proceeds to be deposited back into his department’s account.
“I am excited,” he said. “We will put these in service tonight.”
It is one of the several moves made by Passadumkeag and Howland during the past year to improve teamwork between the departments and provide better emergency response to both communities.
Firefighters in both communities have joined each other’s departments to provide more manpower at the scene of emergencies. The two communities are currently exploring the creation of a fire district. Howland Fire Chief Josh McNally is ensuring all personnel is cross-trained to assist with the ambulance.
The cooperation has already begun paying off for area residence. Howland now provides 24/7 ambulance coverage. Last week, firefighters were staffed enough to perform a welfare check as a result.
“We had a walk-in welfare check at 6 p.m. on January 10,” Rossignol said. “The furnace was not working. We attempted to help light the furnace.”
Firefighters also noticed the residence did not have a working carbon monoxide detector or smoke detector. Both were provided to the occupant. The department also responded to trees down during Friday, January 13’s windstorm.
The increase ambulance service, which began in January, has created a need for sleeping quarters at the station. Last week, construction of a bunkhouse began in the Howland department, with beds being donated by the community. As the project nears completion, Rossignol said he is hoping to get a computer desk and two more chairs.
“Another week and we will be done,” he said. “We just need the electrical work and a fire rated door installed.”