Major progress on two important projects for the Sebago Fire Department took place this week. A crew of volunteer fire fighters broke ground on the addition to Station 1 in Mud City, and the operation of the new radio repeater for fire and rescue emergency services took another step closer to reality.
Station 1 Addition
At the annual town meeting in June 2004 Sebago voters approved $60,000 to build an addition to Station 1. The addition had been recommended by the Fire House Committee and the Fire Department, and had been endorsed by the Budget Committee and the Board of Selectmen during the Capital Investment Program budget process.
The original three-bay fire station in Mud City was built in 1985 but did not include water or bathroom facilities. The 46'x 20' single-story addition will include a small bathroom and shower, a training room and a small office, and will be built at the rear of the existing 50'x 40' station.
The Sebago fire fighters have been volunteering their time and skills to build as much of the addition as possible in order to stretch the town funding. This week a crew of a dozen volunteers was busy installing a septic tank and drain field for the new bathroom and getting things ready for the concrete foundation.
Firefighter Carl Dolloff, operating the town backhoe, and Deputy Chief Alan Greene, operating his own excavator, dug a large excavation for the foundation. Since this is Maine, no one was surprised when Carl and Alan uncovered three huge granite boulders buried behind the station right where the foundation will be going. It took the two excavators working together to remove two of them and move the third, and largest boulder, away from the foundation area.
A large but dying maple tree had to be removed to make room for the foundation as well. During the heavy rain that fell on Sunday the volunteers felled the tree safely to the ground, cut it up, and hauled the wood and brush away in record time. By the time this is printed the stump will have been removed and the rest of the excavation completed in time for the cement to be poured in the next week.
Plans are for the addition to be framed and closed in by the end of the year. Then over the winter the fire fighters will finish the inside work and plan on having the addition completed by spring.
One of the first things that the Fire Department will do will be to move their monthly meetings and training drills to the new addition and cease use of the upstairs meeting room at Station 2, the East Sebago station. An open house of the new addition will be held at town meeting time for Sebago taxpayers to see what their tax dollars have paid for.
Douglas Mountain Radio Repeater
At the June town meeting voters also approved $10,000 for a new radio repeater, to be located on a site next to Sebago's town parking lot on Douglas Mountain. This item was also recommended as part of the Capital Investment Program. The old radio repeater had been in use since 1989, 15 years ago, and is used by Naples Dispatch, the Sebago Fire Department, Sebago Rescue, and other Fire Departments and Rescue services responding to emergency calls in Sebago. It is an essential element of emergency response in the town, and without it fire and rescue efforts are severely impacted.
Since the location on the Channel 6 tower does not provide good coverage throughout Sebago a better location was sought. Testing showed that Douglas Mountain was a better site and a radio repeater there would eliminate many of the "radio shadow" problems that have plagued emergency communications in Sebago for years.
The VHF radio repeater has been purchased and is in service temporarily on the WCSH Channel 6 tower until the new home for the repeater is completed on Douglas Mountain. The fire department made arrangements with Central Maine Power to install a 50' telephone pole at the parking lot. The radio repeater antennas will be installed at the top of this pole.
CMP also installed a second service pole near the parking lot entry gate off Ledge Road that will provide power to the repeater. This week electrician Arthur Osgood installed the 100-amp electrical service box on this pole. Next week the fire fighters will dig a ditch for the 550' of power cable from the service drop to the repeater pole, and will bring in a small building to house the radio equipment.
Horizon Mobile Communications of Portland will install the dipole antenna on the top of the repeater pole and will move the new radio repeater from Winn Mountain to Douglas Mountain in the next few weeks.
Both of these important projects have been long in coming and have taken countless hours by several in town to move things along this far. Many more hours of volunteer work will be required before the two projects are completed. However, both will be in service in the near future and the quality of emergency services in Sebago will be markedly enhanced as a result.
Sebago taxpayers are encouraged to stop by the two projects from time to time to check on their progress.
Last updated December 19, 2004
Copyright © 2004, Allen Crabtree
Copyright © 2004, Allen Crabtree
This article was edited and published in the Bridgton News on December 2, 2004.