Fire Departments Will Merge On January 1

By Rene Lefebvre

EAFD Chief

About eighteen months ago, your two fire departments met at the East Andover Fire Station to discuss working together more closely. Our thinking was that we should train as one team rather than two. This was also a recommendation of the committee formed by the Board of Selectmen to look into the feasibility of merging the fire departments.

Over time, conducting business, training, and fighting fire as one team has become very natural. The next logical step is to merge as one department and become one strong team. We will merge to become one department on January 1, 2013.

Some of the advantages of merging are that training together makes us one large, cohesive team. Firefighting, fire ground, and command operations become a well-rehearsed plan and not a haphazard who-does-what disaster. This result addresses one of our greatest concerns. Working together, we are safer.

Having a well-trained, confident team of firefighters arrive at your incident will create the best chance of a positive outcome. In other words, the better we are, the safer you are as well. Spending precious time doing our work for you and not planning on the fly is best for everyone.

By combining operations we will have an opportunity to contain cost. We will purchase as one Town department, thus eliminating duplication.

Two Stations, One Department

Some things will not change. There will continue to be two precincts. There will continue to be two fire stations. The fire chief will continue to report to the Fire Commissioners. There will be two budgets. Over time, changes in precinct, budget, or management structure may still come, if the voters feel we will make improvements by doing so.

For most of you, the changes will be barely visible. Two very important facts that are important to every homeowner will be met. One: Should you need us, we will be there, well trained and using the very best equipment. Two: Working together, we will use every advantage we can find to control cost for our taxpayers.

There are a few items yet to be worked out, but they are surprisingly minor and will come in time. The officers of the new department have been chosen, and major tasks have been assigned. There have been improvements to our mutual aid operations and a simplification of tactics in our move toward merger. We are looking forward to being one department and the challenges that lay ahead.

In the coming months, we will explain our internal changes. Your firefighters feel strongly that we are moving in the right direction. For now, we ask for your continued support, patience, and understanding.