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Local firefighters lend a hand to Farmington Fire Department

Camden, Rockland, Rockport and Thomaston crews take shifts at Farmington Fire Department
By Susan Mustapich | Oct 01, 2019
Courtesy of: Camden Fire Department Camden firefighters, including, from left, Assistant Chief Andrew Lowe, firefighter Clint Beveridge, Lt. Earle Holt and Assistant Chief Todd Anderson, lend a hand to their fellow firefighters Oct. 1, by staffing a 12-hour shift at the Farmington Fire Rescue Department.

CAMDEN — Local fire departments are sending crews and trucks to assist the Farmington Fire Department in the aftermath of a devastating propane explosion Sept. 16 that killed a veteran firefighter and injured seven others.

Camden Fire Department Engine No. 5 left Washington Street at 5 a.m. Oct. 1 for a 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift, according to Fire Chief Chris Farley. The crew, consisting of Assistant Fire Chiefs Andrew Lowe and Todd Anderson, Lt. Earle Holt and firefighter Clint Beveridge, is expected to return around 8:30 p.m., Farley said.

Farley explained that 24 fire departments around the state are helping to provide coverage to the Farmington Fire Department. Most of the effort is organized through the Maine Fire Chief's Association, with Chief Brent Libby of the Windham Fire-Rescue Department handling the schedule, he said.

After Camden's team arrived in Farmington at 6:30 a.m., Farley reached out to them and heard that Farmington may need help with coverage for another week. He said it's possible Camden could send another crew.

Rockport Fire Chief Jason Peasely assisted in Farmington with an overnight shift, from 7 p.m. Sept. 25 to 7 a.m. the next morning. He carpooled to western Maine with Rockland firefighters. When they arrived they were briefed on duties and assigned to fire trucks that were ready to go.

"When people in the fire department need help, everyone's glad to assist. I was glad to be there," Peasley said.

That day, Rockland and Thomaston firefighters helped cover a 24-hour shift and a 12-hour shift in Farmington, Rockland Fire Chief Chris Whytock said. Rockland firefighters who  traveled to Farmington were Whytock, Assistant Fire Chief Adam Miceli, Capt. Jeff Benner and retired Chief Charlie Jordan (now Freeport fire chief), Lt. Brian Sullivan, firefighters Bill Pendleton and Ben Adams, Thomaston Assistant Fire Chief Jamie Leo and Thomaston firefighter Ellie Adams. Along with Peasley, Rockland firefighters Tom Shook and Carl Anderson covered the night shift.

Coverage from fire departments around the state started Sept. 17, according to Whytock. When crews arrive, a duty officer is chosen, assignments are given out, the local communications system is reviewed and they make sure everyone knows their truck, he said.

While in Farmington, the volunteer crews carry out routine duties. During the day shift, they test hoses, clean equipment, and work to get the Farmington trucks back in shape, Whytock said. When shifts change, crew members exchange information, as they normally would in their own stations. Some of the equipment is on loan, including Augusta's ladder truck, as Farmington's ladder truck was damaged in the explosion, Whytock said.

"Being there to provide that coverage, this is a way the fire departments come together and support their own, any way we can," Whytock said. He said some of the Farmington firefighters are still devastated, and he doesn't know if they all will come back.

Farmington Fire Department Capt. Michael Bell was killed, and six firefighters and a maintenance worker were injured Sept. 16 in a massive propane explosion that leveled a recently renovated and expanded building, according to reports in The Portland Press Herald.

The explosion occurred minutes after firefighters responded to a reported smell of gas. The blast leveled the building, shot debris 200 feet into the air, and shreds of building material, insulation and paper rained back down over the area. Flags were flown at half-staff across the state in honor of Bell, a 30-year member of the Farmington department.

Last week, Rockland firefighters, including, from left, Fire Chief Chris Whytock, Assistant Fire Chief Adam Miceli, Capt. Jeff Benner and retired Chief Charlie Jordan, took two shifts and helped out at the Farmington Fire Rescue Department. (Courtesy of: Rockland Fire Department)
A crew from the Camden Fire Department traveled across the state in Engine 5 Oct. 1 to assist with a day shift at the Farmington Fire Rescue Department. (Courtesy of: Camden Fire Department)
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Comments (1)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Oct 01, 2019 14:45

What an inspirational story!  Shows how people will step up to the plate when there is a job to be done. PHEW!!

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