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Lebanon first responders move into offsite temporary living

"This town budgeted and approved a budget for a 24/7 department. We need to take care of our responders now," a town selectman said.

LEBANON, Maine — For months now, people in the town of Lebanon and town leaders have disagreed over what to do with the town's fire station.

According to an engineering report, the current station needs a new roof to meet the state's building code requirements, among other repairs.

Residents voted down plans for a new building back in June. And then, two days later, sewage pipes burst, forcing EMS crews to work out of a trailer. Recently, first responders moved out of the trailer and into a former daycare in town.

"This town budgeted and approved a budget for a 24/7 department. We need to take care of our responders now," Selectman Chip Harlow said at a select board meeting last Thursday.

The former day care will temporarily house first responders on a month-to-month lease, with a 60-day notice, as discussed in the select board meeting. The Select Board voted, approving the move. The fire department's budget will pay for the rent.

"If the conditions are not livable, like, you know, people have said. Then I think we're not going to stay, and I think you're going to see a decline in responders," one EMS worker said in Thursday's meeting.

Now the question is whether to repair the current fire station or build a new one. The town voted last week to table the fire station controversy until the next general election in November. 

Some people say they don't want the cost of a new station but agree with firefighters that temporary fixes aren't working. Rather, some people want to repair the current building.

"I believe Chief Stefano and the selectmen are feeding into the idea that if we don't vote for their solutions that somehow we're against fire and EMS, which is so untrue. We're not against fire and EMS," Matthew Leggett, a Lebanon resident, said. "The residents want to see the fire station fixed because we want a good place for the firemen to be."

The select board and Fire Chief Stefano were unavailable Monday for comment.


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