Fire Department Study for the Town of Baldwin

The Town of Baldwin in seeking firms to assist with its' short and long term planning related to the town’s fire and rescue services.  A statement of work is available from the Baldwin Selectmen’s Office: Contact baldwinselectmen@gmail.com or call 207-625-9107.  Interested parties are requested to provide a resume and examples of past related work NLT Aug 31, 2021.  Contact Danielle Taylor - Baldwin Admin Assistant at 207-625-9107 or dtaylorbaldwin@gmail.com.

 

Fire Department Study for the Town of Baldwin

Background

In 1947 a large forest fire that started in Fryeburg spread eastward over several days, only being stopped from burning into Baldwin by the Saco River’s natural barrier and the concerted efforts of many local, untrained fire fighters.  Equipment used to fight the fires included man mounted water tanks, shovels, and axes.  Any heavy equipment used was donated by local construction firms for the duration.   In the aftermath, Baldwin, like many rural southern Maine municipalities, organized volunteer fire departments.  Because of its geography and dispersed population, Baldwin organized three separate entities, one for each of the three village centers in town.  Fire houses were built from donated lumber and assembled with donated labor on privately owned land.  Fire trucks were purchased and or donated, equipment was often old and made serviceable with the donated labor of the volunteer fire fighters who mostly lived within short range of the fire houses.  Baldwin still had a number of large labor-intensive industries that would allow fire fighters to leave work in the middle of the day if there was a need to respond.  Participation in the volunteer fire departments ran several generations deep. 

Today the dispersed nature of Baldwin remains largely unchanged.  The occupied areas of town are connected by roads tying together the low lands that wrap three quarters of the way around the centrally located mountain.  However, in the last eighty years, new homes have slowly been established in the upper areas of the central mountain, being accessible from only one primary rural lane.  Although not readily apparent, housing density has increased at an ever-increasing rate. This trend is expected to continue. In addition, expectations of the fire departments have risen dramatically with initial and annual training requirements for volunteers, state mandated equipment for fire fighters and annual inspections and standards for fire trucks.  The number of local businesses has dramatically declined as has the number of volunteer fire fighters.  Many of them work outside of town with commutes over an hour or more, one way.  Finally, fire departments have morphed into “fire and rescue” organizations with an ever-increasing emphasis on emergency medical and rescue response.  This new mission is primarily related to automobile accidents along Route 113 which has turned into a major traffic corridor between Portland and Fryeburg and medical emergency response for an aging population of residents.  In recent years, emergency response calls have exceeded fire suppression calls.

 

If money was not a limiting factor, most residents would be happy with the current structure.  However, there has been an increasing sense within the town’s population that there may be a more cost-effective way to provide fire and rescue services to Baldwin.  The over-arching questions have become, can Baldwin continue to man and finance three fire stations with an ever-reducing number of volunteer firemen and also can Baldwin provide fire protection services from one centrally located fire station?

The purpose of this study is to help town leaders answer these questions so that near- and long-term planning can take place. What vison or goal should Baldwin’s planning be working toward.?

Scope of Work

  1. Analysis of the current volunteer fire department
    1. organization and structure
    2. manpower and level of training
    3. equipment including vehicles, fire fighter gear, radios, etc.
    4. buildings (and building locations), location of dry hydrants and their capacities
    5. historically number and types of calls with response times, response numbers, responding fire and EMS organizations, outcomes
    6. geography of the town, road topology and conditions, summer and winter impacts on the fire department’s ability to provide firefighting and emergency services
    7. Mutual aid agreements, level of aid received, mutual aid provided to other towns
    8. ISO ratings, overall and in specific geographically areas, impact on homeowner’s insurance rates.
    9. Fire and Rescue budgets historically and projected
  2. Identify deficiencies or areas for improvement for each of the above.  Make recommendations for the best approach to providing a fire and rescue services that meet the needs of the community within the constraints of current and expected long term volunteer firemen numbers as reflected in Baldwin and surrounding towns.  Deficiencies with existing infrastructure should be identified along with rough order of magnitude costs for correction of these deficiencies.  List several options with pros and cons for each including expected budget impacts.
  3. Expected impact on ISO ratings for the town, overall and in specific geographic areas, (and the impact on homeowner insurance rates) as a result of implementing recommendations identified by this study. 
  4. The study should recommend a long-term plan for the Baldwin Fire and Rescue services, including recommendations for improving the economy of the existing organization and infrastructure, economies to be gained from consolidations, and recommended locations of consolidated facilities and services. 

The study provider shall meet with the Baldwin Fire Department Chief and the Board of Selectmen prior to commencement of the study.  Ongoing contact with the Fire Chief is expected to collect background data for the study.

A draft report shall be provided within an agreed upon number of weeks of contract award.

A review meeting with the Fire Chief and the Board of Selectmen will be held to prior preparation of the final report.

A final report shall be provided 21 days after the review meeting.

 

 

 





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