Lack of Fire Department Concerns Maine Residents

The recent decision to temporarily shut down the town's fire department has left many residents concerned about community safety.

The two sites with the highest crash rates on I-95 between Newport and Sherman are stretches of highway in Bangor and the Etna-Carmel area, said Lt. Wesley Hussey of the Maine State Police. Without Etna's response, neighboring Newport is the nearest department with extrication equipment, Ryan said.

"In the situation where obviously someone is trapped, we would like to get the closest set of Jaws [of Life] and closest rescue," Hussey said.

Residents also have questioned how the change will affect homeowners insurance, Gibbons said.

The temporary two-week suspension would not have an immediate affect on bills because insurance carriers would not reassess rates for such a short period of time, said Judith Shaw, the deputy superintendent of the state's Bureau of Insurance.

Homeowners insurance is categorized in different protective classes with class 10 being the most expensive. Most Etna homeowners are currently listed in classes nine or 10 because of its rural location, Shaw said. If the department closure is permanent, then some of the class nine homes may move to class 10 because they are farther from fire protection, but the impact should not be significant, she said.

The selectmen will meet at 6 p.m. Monday at the town office to seek a resolution. The issue was initially scheduled for an executive session, but Gibbons said he thinks the whole town should be involved, and he will rally for an open meeting.

The board "still needs to come to a conclusion within a two-week timeframe because it is not fair for townspeople not to know how we will protect their homes and their lives," Serval said Wednesday.

Republished with permission of the Bangor Daily News.