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Buxton Fire-Rescue in the News

Morning fire destroys Buxton home

BUXTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A fire destroyed a Buxton home early Tuesday morning. The fire started around 3 a.m. and when crews arrived there was heavy black smoke pushing out of the building.

Fire officials said they believe the fire stared in the garage of the home at 922 Narragansett Trail. By the time crews arrived, the fire had spread to the rest of the house. About 50 firefighters were on scene with crews from Buxton, Saco, Scarborough, Hollis, and Westbrook. The Buxton Fire Chief Nate Schools said they ran out of water and had to pump it in.

The chief said it appears the home is a total loss. There were no injuries from the fire. Route 202 is closed between Route 22 and Cousins road due to the fire and will be for most of Tuesday morning.

Collins, King Announce $441,460 in Grant Funding for Buxton Fire Department

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King today announced that the Town of Buxton Fire – Rescue Department will receive a federal grant totaling $441,460 from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program. This competitive funding will enable the department to hire and train new firefighters. SAFER grants are administered by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Maine fire departments play an invaluable role safeguarding our communities,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “Federal grants, such as this one, help them fulfill their duties by ensuring that they have the necessary staff and training to meet the demands of the job.”

Shortage of volunteer fire fighters impacting departments across Maine

6:08 PM, Jan 30, 2014

Tim Goff
BUXTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — In many towns throughout Maine, volunteers make up the majority of the fire personnel called upon in an emergency, but over the past few decades, the number of volunteers willing to sacrifice their time and energy has plummeted.

“We tend to use the word volunteer loosely. People here are employees of the town. They are paid to go to calls, to go to trainings,” explained Buxton Fire Chief Nate Schools.

But despite incentives such as paid training, and being paid for the hours spent responding to calls and in the classroom while obtaining needed certifications, many departments are struggling to keep their trucks staffed.

“We lose people over time because they don’t have the time to commit to training, and to the increase of call volume that we are having on both the fire and rescue side of the department,” said Schools.

“When I joined, the Scarborough Fire Department was doing just a little more than 1000 calls a year,” stated Scarborough Fire Chief Michael Thurlow.  “Today, we are doing almost 4000 calls a year.”

“That means they are out three times a day, not two or three times a week, and that is just impossible for a call member to make that kind of commitment and get that truck out,” he added.

He says few volunteers are willing to handle the crushing number of calls for service, which take them away from their families and their other jobs, leaving already swamped departments short on staff.

“It’s a combination of growths in the communities, growths in the number of calls, a wider variety of the calls we are doing, the additional training requirements and certifications that we really have to do to keep folks trained and safe and operating on the fire ground in a safe manner so everybody goes home,” explained Thurlow.

He’s seen the number of volunteers shrink from more than 300 in the 1970’s to fewer than 100 now.

“It’s a double whammy,” he said.  “We’ve got three or four times the number of calls that we are responding to, with one third of the folks to do the job.”

The situation has forced departments from neighboring towns to share resources, in many cases increasing critical response times.

“That is the reality we are dealing with now,” admitted State Fire Marshal Joe Thomas.  “I mean, it has become a circumstance where almost a regional approach to fire protection and fire suppression has become the norm.”

He says many departments have only one full-time paid employee, the fire chief, and most of them are seeking solutions to their staffing problems with limited financial resources and and few options.

“No matter how big the bucket, there is always a bottom there,” said Thomas.  “If they run out of people, those trucks aren’t coming out the doors.”

“Carrying the torch, if you will, is probably the biggest challenge we have in the fire service,” stated Bill Guindon, director of the Maine Fire Service Institute.  “The demands have increased dramatically, and it doesn’t matter whether you are a volunteer, part-time, or full-time.”

He estimates there are roughly seven, maybe as many as eight thousand volunteer fire fighters serving in their communities across the state.

He says towns and cities need to seriously evaluate what their needs and expectations are for fire service in their communities and get creative trying to encourage more volunteers, while partnering with other departments in their area to survive.

“There are approximately 127 departments that actually have part-time fire fighters, or what they call per diem, that are there to help fill the void if you will, especially in daytime coverage,” said Guindon.  He expects the number of departments turning to paid staff to increase.

Fire Marshal Thomas says the state doesn’t not require, but enables towns and cities, to provide fire protection services.  He doesn’t expect many departments will close their doors in the near future, but says the increased demands on an aging population of fire fighters is starting to take its toll.

“The desire, the ability, the obligation to be able to give one’s time and energy to being a fire fighter is difficult,” said Thomas.

He anticipates towns may start requiring the installation of residential sprinklers in newly constructed homes as one way of protecting people in the absence of an immediate response to a call for help.

The shortage of volunteers is not only eating into town budgets as they are forced to pay for additional staff, but it also impacts insurancerates for property owners when a community’s fire fighting response is not up to industry standards.

For now, fire departments are working with what they have to handle emergencies when they occur.

“We may show up to your house, we may not be able to go in because we don’t have the people to go in and fight that fire,” explained Chief Schools, who is working closely with neighboring communities to improve response times and provide coverage.

“[It] doesn’t matter what the side of the door says when the truck shows up, the person who is calling for an emergency is expecting that the person that gets off that truck is professional and can deal with that problem,” he said.

He hopes by educating residents of the challenges his department faces, they’ll better understand why funding their department is critical.

“Without this funding, without these people, I cannot do my job,” he said.

“For a fire chief now, that is probably a big bulk of their daily thought process, how am I going to provide fire protection services in this community today?” stated Thomas.  “I don’t know if there is an easy answer, and I don’t know if there is any one answer.”

Gas grill explosion blows Buxton man off deck

August 22, 2013

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

BUXTON — A Buxton man had to be taken by ambulance to Maine Medical Center in Portland on Wednesday night after a propane gas grill on the rear deck of his home exploded.

A Buxton man had to be transported by ambulance to Maine Medical Center in Portland on Wednesday night after a propane gas grill exploded at 415 Turkey Lane in Buxton.Buxton Fire Department

Buxton Fire Chief Nate Schools said the homeowner was lighting the grill when the unit exploded. Heat from the explosion melted vinyl siding off the rear wall of the two-story home and scorched the deck.

The homeowner was blown off the deck by the force of the explosion. He was taken to the hospital to be evaluated, but Schools said his injuries did not appear to be life-threatening. He suffered minor burns to his face and hands.

Three other members of the man’s family were inside the home at 415 Turkey Lane but were not injured, according to Schools.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office planned to go to Buxton on Thursday to investigate the cause of the fire. Schools said the fire, which was reported around 6:45 p.m., was quickly extinguished and the family will be able to live there.

Buxton fire destroys barn, SUV, Half acre of woods burns

Published  10:17 PM EDT May 03, 2013

BUXTON, Maine —A barn fire spread to nearby woods and a sport utility vehicle, but firefighters prevented extension to a home on Friday afternoon.

The fire destroyed the two-story, 30 by 40-feet barn, along with the SUV at 338 Rocky Dundee Road in Buxton, said Chief Nathan Schools of Buxton Fire-Rescue.

About a half an acre of woods burned because of the spread of embers. Firefighters used hand tools against the woods fire, Schools said.

No one was injured in the fire, which was reported at 4:30 p.m.

The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause, Schools said.

The barn was used for storage for vehicles.

Eight mutual aid departments responded to the two-alarm fire, Schools said. Firefighters relied on a water shuttle to local  ponds in Buxton.

Firefighters cleared the area around 9 p.m., Schools said.

 

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