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2011/03/30 Minutes
Sebago Fire and Rescue Building Task Force
Minutes from Meeting of March 30, 2011

Meeting opened at 6:05 pm at the Sebago Town Offices.

In attendance were Task Force members Carl Dolloff, Phil Strike, Alan Greene, Tim Smith, Anita Chadbourne, Ann Farley, and Allen Crabtree.  Task Force member Jim Smith was absent.  Fire Chief Brent Libby was there from Standish.  Fire Chief Ken Littlefield was there from Sebago.   Guests present were Architect Jeff Fleming, Selectman Edie Harnden, and Cathy Greene and Jason Linscott from the Sebago Fire Department.

Minutes of the March 8 and March 14 meetings were distributed for review.  There being no objections they were accepted as read and will be posted on the town website with other minutes of the Task Force.  Minutes of meetings going back to August 13, 2003 are also posted on the town website and members were encouraged to read them to get a better understanding of the effort that has been made for the last 8 years on a new fire and rescue building.

A letter from Sebago Fire Chief Ken Littlefield to Jim Smith dated March 28, 2011 was distributed and the issues raised in it were discussed at length.  Ann began the discussion by asking the fire department “Are we on the same page?”

1.      Memorandum of Agreement with Standish – The March 28 Fire Department letter stated that “a majority of [the Officers of the fire department]” felt that “...further negotiations between Standish and Sebago Fire Officers are needed to fully understand the immediate and long term needs of both towns from the fire fighting aspect.  Our reasoning with decision is there are a lot of “what if’s” that we would like ironed out in advance before the town makes a major commitment to another municipality.  So, we would request that the existing funds for Engine Two remain in the CIP, until a final decision is made.”

Alan Greene said that there were a number of specific questions about the engine that Standish would house in Sebago as part of the agreement, including location of the suction (Sebago has a suction fitting on the front because of some dry hydrant and stream locations), extrication equipment (not now on the Standish engine but carried on the Sebago engine).

Ken said that he first saw the agreement in March and a number of questions, including how is the Standish engine equipped, who would pay for maintenance, etc. Cathy wanted to know who would pay for fire fighter call pay on mutual aid calls.  Brent assured the group that, under the agreement, Standish would pay for maintenance on the truck and when it responds to calls in Standish, the Sebago Firefighters on board would be considered Standish staff and would be paid by Standish.  When Sebago sends one of its engines and crew to respond to an automatic aid call in Standish, Sebago would cover their costs.  It is all spelled out in the agreement, and has worked well with the long-standing agreement that Standish has with Gorham.   Brent said that if their engine breaks, Standish would fix it per the agreement.  If there is equipment on the engine that belongs to Sebago (e.g. – hose) and it fails, then Sebago would be responsible for replacing it.

Cathy thought that we were going to replace Sebago Tank 2 at Station 2 with a Standish tank truck.  This has not been an option since the Fire Chiefs, officers and town officials met in Standish on December 15.

There were comments made about Standish engine E-1 coming to Sebago and the future replacement thereof.  Brent laid out the rough schedule for replacement of 6 to 8 years.  Alan asked the Sebago be represented on the committee to design and spec the replacement truck, and Brent said that this would be done.  Alan said that we would want to replace our Engine 2 with something similar to an engine with the capabilities of our Engine 4.

Alan asked when Sebago Engine 2 would be retired and whether it could continue to be used until it was no longer serviceable.  Allen said that the agreement does not set a time when Standish’s engine would replace the Sebago engine, but that the current budget has no replacement funding for the replacement of Engine 2.  This was done in order to avoid budget increases and anticipating that Standish would house an engine in Sebago allowing Sebago Engine 2 to be retired and sold.  Voter approval would be sought at the June 2011 town meeting for permission to transfer CIP reserve funds for Engine 2 to the purchase of the new fire-rescue building land and associated dirt work.  

Alan said that the fire department would like to work with Standish FD to look at the schedule more closely as to when Engine 2 would be taken out of service and Standish’s engine replaced it.  Also the specific hardware details need to be worked out.  

It was agreed that Sebago and Standish officers would meet on Monday, April 4,2011 at Sebago Station 1 to discuss these details.  Recommendations must be reported to the Selectmen by April 14 meeting.  A joint meeting of the Budget Committee, Board of Selectmen and CIP committee is also being held on April 4 to take one last look at the budget before it is put into the warrant, so there is very little time if major changes are recommended.  Ken said that 90% of the questions were answered about the replacement truck during the discussions tonight with Brent.

Allen admonished the Fire Department Task Force representatives and the Chief that there needs to be closer communications between them and the fire department officers.  Task Force FD representatives need to speak for and represent the department, and if there are concerns they must raise them early on.

Assignment – Standish and Sebago Fire Department officers will meet on Monday, April 4, 2011 to discuss the specific equipment requirements and schedule for replacing Sebago Engine 2 with the Standish engine.  Any recommendations for changes to the agreement will be conveyed to the Board of Selectmen by April 14.

2.      Building – The Fire Department letter of March 28 said “We would like to see a large four bay station...proposed 6,912 square feet.  This would give us approximately 2,690 square feet more space than we currently have.”  A sketch was attached showing a smaller building housing only fire department equipment and minimal office and storage space.

Allen reminded the group that this project was for a joint fire and rescue building, and has been since the voters approved a public safety building at town meeting in 2005.  We have been working since then to build a building that would house both fire and rescue apparatus – not a firehouse only.  It makes no sense to have the ambulance in one building and fire trucks in another across town when every minute of a response matters in an emergency.  Tim commented that a large number of the Rescue staff are also Fire Fighter II certified and could roll both fire and rescue apparatus.

Tim said that while the Rescue Department has specific needs, he is willing to work so that these facilities are shared.  Both Rescue day shift personnel and any fire departments providing station coverage for Sebago would share the break room and small kitchen.  He doesn’t want to kill the project but needs to have minimal facilities for his staff.

Alan said that most of the EMS needs are also fire department needs – decontamination, showers, and work stations.  We can share the same facility.  We should sell the old Rescue building when the new fire-rescue building is built.

Cathy said that the project should be designed small, just a shell, for fire department needs.  If the rescue building is not adequate it should be added to.  A larger station is going to cost more than $1 million and the voters will never approve of it.

Allen said that we must have Jeff develop conceptual plans so that we can then get estimates on cost.  The preliminary cost estimates based on the Lull associates plans came in well below $1 million, so it is idle speculation to reject plans until we have some numbers first. This should be a building that meets the needs of the town for 20 years, and we need to be careful that we don’t build a building that is too small the day we move into it.  If the design that meets our needs is too expensive, then we can lay out the plans and see what can be deferred.  Don’t admit defeat before we even get going.

Alan said that we should be planning a 50-year building, and that we should build to meet our fire and rescue needs now and not hope that in 10 years we can go back to the voters to approve a major expansion of the building.  This is probably the best opportunity we have to finance and build the station we have been talking about for more than 15 years.

Jeff said that he had met with Tim and Anita and had toured the Rescue station to see their needs as well as shortcomings of the station.  Since the meeting on March 14 he had not been contacted by Carl to tour the fire stations nor to visit the Standish Central Station to see their facilities.  He only received the dimensions of the fire apparatus on March 30.

Jeff was able to develop two designs, based on the minimalist approach presented by the fire department with only fire apparatus, and another that included more of the office space we had discussed at our last meeting as well as the ambulance.  He called it a phase I and phase II approach, and we could get estimates for both of them so that we can make a better call on the final design to move forward with.

The layout and dimensions of the offices, storage and other required spaces need to be worked out.  It was agreed to have a smaller group work with Jeff to help define the layout and dimensions.  The subcommittee will consist of Tim and Anita for Rescue and Ken and Cathy for Fire.

Jeff said that once the footprint of the building is firmed up and the lot shape and dimensions agreed to with Shaw Brothers, the important next step is to have a civil engineer look at the proposal from the point of view of drainage, runoff, soils, etc.  Cathy said that the civil engineer should be called in first before we spend any more time on the building design.

Assignment – Carl will contact architect Jeff Fleming to arrange a tour of the fire stations at the earliest opportunity.  Carl will coordinate a visit with Chief Libby for Jeff of the Standish Central Station.

A subcommittee will meet with Jeff on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at Station 1 beginning at 7pm to discuss the layout of the offices and storage space in the new fire and rescue building.  

Next meeting of the task force will be held with Jeff Fleming to discuss building concepts on Monday, April 25, 2011 at 7pm at the Town offices.  

Meeting was adjourned at 7:55 p.m.