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Sebago Maine Town Seal
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2003/11/12 Minutes
Sebago Fire Station Committee
Minutes of Meeting
November 12, 2003

Chairman David McCarthy called meeting to order at 18:40 hours.


Members present - David McCarthy, Maurice Davies, David Hague, Ken Littlefield
Members absent – Ed Fitzgerald, Bill Cooper
Non-members present – Allen Crabtree

Old Business

Minutes from the October 28, 2003 meeting were approved as drafted.  Motion by  David H and seconded by Maurice.  Approved.

New Business

1.      Fire House Building Fund

David Mc has not been able to check into the records to see if there is any residual money left from earlier fire house/rescue building committee efforts.  He will work to have this information for next time.

There was discussion about where funds would come from if the needs assessment costs money, and also if there is a desire to survey the land at Station 2.  The consensus was to wait until dollar amounts have been identified first.

2.      Run Statistics

Allen did an analysis of the runs by day of week for the 113 calls YTD 2003.  

Day of Week
# Calls
% Calls
Ave Response
10 minutes
17 minutes
21 minutes
09 minutes
15 minutes
14 minutes
11 minutes

Neither Allen nor Ken had an opportunity to call Augusta to get average run times from the state.  They will endeavor to do so by the next meeting.

3.      Fire Needs Assessment

Ken introduced Neil Courtney.  Neil described that he can function as a facilitator to work with the committee and help it achieve its goals.  David Mc briefed Neil on what the committee has done and where they hoped to go.  Maurice summarized his thoughts on the issues facing the committee, including the number, size and type of fire apparatus as well as the number and type of fire station that the town needs.  The committee’s presentation to the town must be credible and cost effective.  David Mc commented that the committee would need to address the Town’s immediate needs at the stations as well as long-term needs.  David H reminded Neal of the committee’s time schedule and suggested that an independent survey was more important than a facilitator.  David Mc wanted to know what types of equipment is needed for the next 10 years in Sebago.  The changeable requests and goals of the Fire Department have contributed to conflicts and acrimony in town.  Allen provided some background on past efforts to study and fund fire stations, as well as reserve funding.  

Neil talked about the Brunswick Fire Department situation.  A committee was formed to site a new fire station and used a computer model to predict fire station locations.  The consultant suggested that the town should also look at the police station and site a public safety building.  Location at a down town site was desired by one faction for ease of central response, and another group wanted another area.  Because there was no consensus the fire station failed.  David H said that we don’t have the option of holding a special town meeting because of the charge made to the committee at the last town meeting.  Maurice said that a workshop could be held, however, to get public input and help build consensus.

David Mc said that we need to have a skeleton plan for immediate and long term needs and costs at the next town meeting.  We might end up with a proposal for handling the immediate needs within the CIP/warrant article process, and also a request for funding to complete the study next year.   Neil wanted to know if there was any funding for a study right now, and said that his pro-bono time is limited to the meeting tonight.  His hourly cost is $65/hour on an open-ended contract basis, or he would do a contract for an estimated flat fee.  

Maurice said that Station 1 needs are relatively minor and could be met with providing water and septic.  Station 2 problems are more major and will need closer attention to replace/remodel/build new on the site.  We think we have a picture of equipment needs.  The committee must have a needs assessment from Neil for facilities – what and where.

Neil wanted to know if he would be expected to take an objective view, or whether there were any preconceived limits on how many stations there should be.  He recommends that a completely objective look should consider whether we should have one, two, or three stations.  He should also look at automatic mutual aid as a factor.  

David Mc asked Neil for his advice, just based on the conversations tonight.  Neil recommends that “form follows function” and that the study must reflect the organization, its needs and protocols.  Function for fire departments today are requirement based.  Selling the needs to the community is also an essential element.  And, having a viable, solid plan is important because it provides a blueprint of logical, forward thinking based on community needs and citing the examples of other towns as well.  

David Mc asked Neil to review the information he received tonight and prepare a proposal for the committee, with an estimate of cost and time.  The committee must comprehensively address fire stations, maintenance requirements, and apparatus projections.  David Mc talked about the changes in town administration that have taken place over the last few years, with a town manager form of government and expanding the number of selectmen to five.  There have been growing pains that are now being addressed, but the overall town budget situation and the addition of a CIP program will be actively worked on this year.  There will be expenditures coming up for next year for some fire station improvements.  

Neil said that the committee should be cautious about a strategy of “throwing money” to repair old and substandard buildings rather than addressing the real, long term need.  The taxpayers will see through this and see that this is not being fiscally responsible.  Maurice said that if a small investment were made, such as renovations at Station 2, to buy time on the road to a new station.  David Mc said that we need to think in current response times, not in terms of 1940’s equipment speeds.  We need to determine the best apparatus mix before we can make the facilities decision.  

Neil said that he is working on two major efforts right now in Kennebunk and Freeport, and could not get going in Sebago till mid-winter.  He will prepare a proposal and submit it to David Mc.  He will look at the material from past meetings and work of the committee.  Sebago FD stations do not meet the basic fire house needs of the 21st century – they are now just garages, and need to be modified to meet the other needs that the fire department must meet.  David Mc suggested that we should be looking far enough down the road to where a full-time fire fighter, or a full-time fire fighter/rescue person would be on duty all the time supplemented by the volunteer call personnel.  

David Mc said that the committee would be looking at the immediate needs of the existing stations while awaiting Neil’s proposal.  Neil will send an initial draft to David sometime next week.   David and Neil will work on the proposal, back and forth, until there is a proposal to bring to the committee.

4.      Next Meeting

Next meeting is scheduled tentatively for Wednesday, December 3, at 19:00 hrs.    We will discuss Neil’s proposal if ready, follow up on items from last time, including average state response times, NFPA , immediate needs for Station 1 including a walk-through.  All bring notes for Station 1 improvements. Meeting was adjourned at 20:31 hours.