Legal action against fire department hurts community
In February, we were there covering the fire that destroyed Frankie's Garage in Owls Head.
Firefighters from several towns were there and they had brought with them a tremendous amount of equipment. What they lacked at the scene was a strong water supply. The garage was completely destroyed, taking the tools, equipment and antique cars and motorcycles inside along with it.
Cecil Fogg, owner of the garage, has filed a notice with the town of Owls Head that he may file a lawsuit against the fire department, town and Fire Chief Frank Ross.
This comes after he has complained to selectmen about what he sees as a failure on the part of the fire department to save his building and property.
At the scene of the fire, it was clear the firefighters were frustrated by a lack of a strong water supply. There is room here for a discussion about what Owls Head should do to improve the hydrants up that way and how they might be more effective in the future.
We also can understand Fogg's disappointment and the losses he has experienced.
However, we feel strongly that filing a lawsuit against a town fire department and even threatening to do so, is bad for the community.
Firefighters in towns all over the Midcoast are volunteers who put their lives on the line to save people in our community from burning buildings. They work at night, on weekends and holidays, in searing heat and freezing cold. They sacrifice their time and sometimes their lives for their neighbors and do not ask for much in return.
These firefighters should not be worried as they rush to the scene of a fire that they are going to be sued over lost property. That should be the last thing on their minds.
In the case of a garage filled with fuel and vehicles, it could have been very dangerous to keep firefighters inside that building fighting the fire that started in the waste-oil burner. There were massive fireballs at that scene as things inside the garage ignited. If a firefighter had been in there, he or she could have been killed.
All of those tools, the building and the cars and motorcycles combined were not worth one firefighter.
Insurance is there to protect property owners from the loss of things.
In the wake of this fire, the community has rallied around Fogg and helped out.
We ask that he remember that spirit of community and drop this rather than hurt the community with a full-fledged lawsuit.
Intersection on a hill
The new Wal-Mart Superstore is coming together on the hill overlooking Route 1 near Dorman's Dairy Dream in Thomaston.
As our story in this edition shows, the company plans to open the new store in October. We expect that will be a cheerful community event.
However, with it come some areas of concern. We have heard concerns about that intersection from several people who have driven that section of Route 1. The entrance to the shopping center that will include Wal-Mart is near the crest of a hill, and sitting at that light, you cannot see what is coming over that hill. At sunset, drivers approaching the light will also be blinded by the glare.
The developers could well argue they tried to purchase land from Dorman's for a better entrance location. However, it is not Dorman's obligation to sell.
It seems looking at this intersection now that the planning board may have been somewhat shortsighted in failing to prevent this being the location of the entrance.
We have also learned about plans to add new asphalt on Old County Road in anticipation of the increased traffic Wal-Mart will cause. Without properly rebuilding the road, we are just putting problems off for another day.
Developers and planners need to take a hard look at these issues when building projects on this scale.