MOUNT DESERT — Fire Chief Mike Bender is looking to hire an additional full-time, paid firefighter, bringing the total number, including himself, to five.
The fire department’s budget for the coming fiscal year, which voters approved at Town Meeting last Tuesday, includes funding for the new position. Following the Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen authorized Bender to begin the recruitment process.
“This is the new position that was discussed and included in our 10-Year Strategic Plan,” he said in a memo to Town Manager Durlin Lunt. “Originally, I had planned to create one position this year and two more next year to bring us up to a staffing level that would enable us to begin 24 hour/7 days a week fire department coverage.”
But that hiring plan was developed before the Northeast Harbor Ambulance Service informed town officials in February that it would not be able to continue operating beyond the end of 2022. It has since been decided that the fire department will take on the responsibility for providing emergency medical services for the town.
Because of that, Bender said, “Next year’s planned hires will need to be re-evaluated, as there will be a need for more than the two additional positions by then to effectively operate a fire and ambulance service.”