1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2005

    Default Thumbs up to Chief Lucier, Milton, NH.

    Heard this on the radio this afternoon, so I googled it...

    Chief Lucier of the Milton, NH Fire Department had to make one of those tough-but-easy calls: He ordered the gates on a local mill dam to remain closed, causing the flooding of the homes of about 200 local residents but likely preventing much more serious damage down river in other jurisdictions.

    As could be expected, he's taken flack from local residents...although major newspapers in NH have written editorials and the Governor has issued public statements thanking him and backing his decision.

    Below is the letter he had published in his local newspaper (the Daily Democrat):

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006
    Fire chief explains Milton dam decision

    By Andy Lucier
    Milton Fire Chief

    Now that the water has subsided and things are getting back to normal, I feel the townspeople of Milton and all those affected by my decision to hold the Milton dam deserve an explanation.

    First and foremost, although it was my responsibility to make the decision on whether to release the dam or hold it back, numerous agencies and experts were consulted. Dam engineers and emergency management agencies from both New Hampshire and Maine were consulted. My choice of saving lives over property was a choice I believe any chief would have made in the same situation.

    To those affected in Milton, I did realize the sacrifice you would all endure, but knowing the type of people who live in this community and after realizing the big picture, I felt that most of you would agree with this decision. When you are given a choice of property or losing 2,000-plus lives, you also would have made the same choice.

    I spoke to Gov. Lynch and explained to him the sacrifice the residents of Milton would endure in order to protect the loss of lives downstream. I asked him to make sure the town of Milton would be taken care of due to my decision. He assured me the state would be behind us throughout the cleanup and the rebuilding.

    Throughout the entire event, hundreds of decisions were made about the continued safety of those below the Milton dam. The city of Rochester assigned a fire officer to the command center for the duration of the event. After my initial decision, all decisions were made through a joint and unified command system. The dams were monitored every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day. I know the media reported that the dam collapsed. That information never came from the command center.

    During the event, the command center was staffed at the minimum with a Milton fire officer, a dam expert from the state of New Hampshire, a representative from the state of New Hampshire, a member of the Emergency Management Agency, a Rochester fire officer, a Lebanon fire officer and a Milton police officer. We were in constant contact with the town of Wakefield and the cities of Rochester and Somersworth as to the situation with their bridges and dams. Also, we had concerns with keeping the water away from the water treatment plant in Somersworth.

    In the near future, I will be printing a long thank you list. The generosity from the community was phenomenal. I do need to give a special thank you, to the members of the Milton fire department and ambulance, for your dedication to protecting the residents of the town of Milton. But most of all, thank you to the residents of Milton. I have witnessed firsthand the support and community efforts that this situation produced. Residents cooked food and brought it to the crew that worked around the clock, a gesture that was more than appreciated. Local agencies and volunteers came together to sandbag, restore roads, and to help with a temporary shelter at the high school. A number of residents offered to help in any way that they could. You are the heroes.

  2. #2
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    Bones42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Pt. Beach, NJ


    Just curious, but is it common in that area for a fire chief to be making decisions on a dam? Around me, that falls under the water department.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  3. #3
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    Join Date
    Dec 2003


    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42
    Just curious, but is it common in that area for a fire chief to be making decisions on a dam? Around me, that falls under the water department.
    Bones, I would think that it depends on the locale. It is not unusual to have the fire chief designated as the director of public safety which pretty much encompasses ALL aspects of the title.

    If I am not mistaken, the county sheriff doesn't have as much flex in my city as the fire chief/director of public safety (if he chooses to use it). During major emergencies, our chief is given quite a bit of decision-making power to protect the citizens of our city. This includes ALL public works/water department/road department/etc. personnel.
    Stupid People.......Providing Job Security to Public Safety Professionals for ........forever

  4. #4
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    nmfire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Maryland (DC Suburb)


    What was the loss-of-life problem down river?
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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