stellapearl320@gmail.com

Greetings, Brooks. I have a few important things to share with you, so read on.

Halloween

Don’t forget Trunk ‘N’ Treat — it’s coming up fast and is a great and much safer way to celebrate. Information can be found at the Town Office, Ralph’s Cafe, the Varney or you can email me directly. Hope to see you there.

Internet service/Brooks Broadband Survey

The Brooks Planning Board has been hard at work trying to get you better internet service. We all know that this is a major issue. You can help us. We need you to fill out our survey and believe that the answers will show that we need much better service. It is fast and easy. It will help us gather needed information to guide the help that is hopefully coming:  https://surveymonkey.com/r/Brooks_BB_Survey. Printed copies will be available at the Town Office for those requiring them.

Volunteer Fire Department

Brooks, we have a BIG problem. Two weeks ago, there was an incident at the Historical Society that could have been much worse. Luckily, our fire chief happened to be driving by at the time. He had to rely on the assistance of neighbors until the real help arrived (fire hoses filled with water are unbelievably heavy). I think it’s vitally important that the community understand just how big a problem this is. Here is what Fire Chief Hans Albee has to say:

Brooks currently has 12 members. Of those, only four are qualified for interior work requiring an SCBA (that is, they can enter a building and use breathing devices). He’d like to have three or four more members, and at least two more SCBA-qualified members.

The main challenge is participation. A core group of two to four members responds to probably 75% of calls, and an increasing number of calls have only one or two responders. He does not think this is because members don’t want to participate — it’s primarily a problem of out-of-town work obligations.

As a volunteer department, they rely on enough people being available and willing when a call comes in, and increasingly people have work that takes them out of town during the day, or that they can’t leave at a moment’s notice. Ideally, he’d like to add some members who work in town and have flexible schedules.

Many departments used to rely on farmers and tradespeople who were around and could make their own work schedule. There will be a good turnout for a major incident at night or on a weekend. A vast majority of calls are for trees in the roadway or vehicle accidents — if those calls happen during the day, there may be only one or two people available. Working around traffic at an accident or removing debris from the road is one of the most dangerous things they do. It would be valuable to have members who were just willing to hold a traffic sign.

Being a volunteer firefighter is also social. COVID has made it hard to be together for the regular training, equipment inspections, and meetings that are necessary to keep people engaged and feeling like part of a team. These are challenges for volunteer fire departments all over Waldo County and the state.

Some departments have been paying members by the hour for participating in calls. Chief Albee does not think any members are here for the money, but getting paid might attract a few new people and make a difference. Brooks is very supportive of the fire department in terms of budget already, so adding new costs would be difficult. We’re all fortunate to have mutual aid from neighboring towns, and even though most of them have similar membership challenges, together we’re still able to provide services our communities need.

Many thanks to Chief Albee for taking the time to answer my questions. If you, or anyone you know, is interested in joining, email brooksfiredept@fairpoint.net or contact them via the Facebook page: Brooks Volunteer Fire Department.

Until next time…peace.

filed under: