LEBANON, Maine — The Lebanon Fire Department is facing multiple challenges in the months ahead—from voters, sewage issues, and the loss of its leader come Sunday.
Chief Kurk Flynn announced he was resigning from the department after his July 9 shift.
He said working extensive overtime while his son deals with health issues back home in Vermont was the last straw, and said many in town support his team, even organizing a "meal train" to feed them.
But, he said, others have fought many needed upgrades and repairs to equipment and to the station itself, including when residents voted against plans for a new building in June.
Miranda, a resident, spoke at length to the select board during their June 29 meeting, admonishing them for not providing enough detail in their proposal to voters. She said, with more complete plans, Lebanon voters would likely be more willing to pass it, whether or not their taxes would rise.
"I just wanted you to understand not everybody voted it down because they don't want it, they don't like the chief, they're on one side or another," she said to the board.
Sewage pipes burst two days after the vote, forcing the firefighters and EMTs into a trailer parked outside the station, with bathrooms in another small trailer around the corner. They have also faced harassment, with one commenter on a Lebanon Facebook page calling the firefighters a "goon squad" when they attended a select board meeting.
Pauley Rumery said the mission remains the same.
"Whatever happens around here we'll still get on that truck we'll get on that ambulance and do what we do for the residents of Lebanon," he said.
Flynn said he’s fought for his team and hopes they get support.
"I guarantee this town I gave you 100 percent of my time all the time," he told NEWS CENTER Maine Friday afternoon. "And I'm ready to go home and see my boy and my grandkids and, especially, my wife."
In August, Lebanon voters will decide if they want the town to make immediate plans to get the fire crew back inside a solid structure. Meanwhile, the town is conducting research to determine the best location and plan for a potential new fire station.
They intend to present their findings to voters in November when residents will again decide the future stability of the department.
NEWS CENTER Maine tried to reach both members of the town’s select board fire subcommittee for comment but did not hear back.