ORLAND, Maine — Residents in Orland have a decision to make Wednesday regarding a new proposal by the town's fire department.
The current fire station for the Orland Fire Department is nearly 50 years old and poses some issues to the volunteer firefighters on a daily basis.
The current fire station has operational and structural issues, such as low ceilings, and some fire trucks are in need of modifications just to fit through the garage doors, according to Fire Chief Robert Conary.
The new station would make it easier to work, giving crews more space, but health and safety of the firefighters is a top priority as well.
Firefighters face certain health risks like exposure to carcinogens, which can impact firefighters and their families. The new station will have exhaust removal systems and decontamination shower areas to minimize the risk of spreading the chemicals.
"Because we don't have decontamination areas here [at the current fire station], we end up taking that stuff home," Conary said. "It's on our bodies. It's on our clothes. It's in our gear that we throw in the back of our truck."
The Orland Fire Station Committee proposed five different options to help solve some of the problems but decided a new station would best benefit the department and the community it serves.
"We do it [volunteer firefighting] because we want to do it for our community, and it will feel good to us to know they want us to be in a safe, efficient, easy-to-work-in space," Julia Gray, assistant fire chief, said.
Voters can head to the Orland Community Center from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, to cast their ballot.
If the station gets approval, the department will look for grants and other funding assistance to help with the $4 million cost.
"We hope to be able to go out and get some funding from the federal government as well as other areas, too, so it should come in less than what we're voting on," John Barlow, chair of the Orland Fire Department Building Committee and former Orland fire chief, said.
The new station will be built off Gray Meadow Road in Orland if the referendum passes.