LEBANON, Maine — The Lebanon Board of Selectmen has today formally requested and received a pledge of services from York County officials to assist the community in resolving concerns raised within the Lebanon Fire and EMS Department.
Chief Roger S. Hooper, the former Goodwins Mills Fire-Rescue Chief who now serves as York County Fire Administrator, has been engaged to assist the current ranking officer of the Lebanon Fire and EMS Department, Capt. Frank Maquire, with the day-to-day management of the department. Captain Magquire has been appointed as Interim Deputy Chief. Additionally, Chief Hooper will be conducting an administrative review and readiness assessment of fire and EMS operations in Lebanon, with the goal of providing a comprehensive report to town officials about how the community can best move forward.
“Our primary goal is ensuring that emergency services in Lebanon remain running at full capacity and that the Town has a path forward for future success,” Chief Hooper said. “It is my sincere hope that the Lebanon Fire-Rescue Department will emerge stronger than ever through this process.”
The Lebanon Board of Selectmen earlier this month placed Fire Chief Steve Merrill and Deputy Chief J.T. Harmon on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the assessment by the York County officials as well as investigations by the town’s human resources department and an outside engineering firm John Turner Consulting, Inc., and air quality firm Environmental Safety and Hygiene.
The investigations stem from complaints received by the selectmen from members of the department, including serious allegations about the condition of facilities and equipment in the Fire-Rescue Department.
The administrative review process is set to begin March 1 and is expected to be complete in 6-8 weeks.
The Lebanon Fire-Rescue Department is a combination per-diem and on-call department, with per-diem first responders working during the daytime hours and call firefighters/medics responding to calls from home during the evenings. The department remains operational, but with its top-two officers (who also respond to calls) on leave, Lebanon has briefed its mutual aid partners, including the Rochester, New Hampshire Fire Department.
“The Lebanon Selectmen wishes to assure the residents of Lebanon that the Fire and EMS Department will continue to provide service uninterrupted,” said Charles Russell, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Selectmen. “The Town of Lebanon is committed to providing reliable quality emergency services.”