WINTHROP — Meg Bateman joined the Winthrop Fire Department as a junior firefighter because she wanted to help people.

However, Bateman recently found herself on the receiving end of what she calls the brotherhood of firefighters.

The 16-year-old Winthrop girl and her mother, Becky Pottle, lost their home and most of their possessions during a home fire last week.

On Monday, an instructor and students from the emergency services program at the Mid-Maine Technical Center in Waterville took Bateman out shopping, with $400 they helped to raise, to help replace the clothing she lost to the blaze.

Also, Winthrop Fire Chief Dan Brooks gave Pottle and Bateman another $1,100 raised by firefighters.

“We lost everything, yes, but it’s just a house,” Bateman said outside the fire station in Winthrop, before departing on her shopping trip to Augusta. “Even though it’s a bad thing, in some ways it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me, seeing how people have responded to help. I love the guys I work with in the Fire Department — all of them. It’s a brotherhood.”

Josh Wheeler, a Winthrop firefighter and instructor in the emergency services program at Mid-Maine Technical Center, said the money originally was raised by a group of boosters to go into a fund for an annual student trip to New York City. They decided to give $400 to Bateman from the fund.

“It’s a fellow fire services person,” Wheeler said. “Any time you have an opportunity to help each other, we try to do that.”

With Marsha Graves, a Winthrop Ambulance crew member and teacher assistant at the technical center, along as a chaperone, three students took Bateman shopping in Augusta to help her replace clothing and other items lost to the fire. The students were Dakota Strout, 17, of Winslow High School; Megan Moen, 17, of Lawrence High School in Fairfield; and Emma Kroemer, 17, of Messalonskee High School.

Bateman said their stops would include Dick’s Sporting Goods. Pottle said her daughter is an avid hockey player, and her hockey gear appeared to be lost to the fire.

Pottle said she has been amazed at the outpouring of support as they work to recover from the devastation.

“Some of the people (helping) don’t even know us,” she said. “People just, even with the economy like it is, have been right there. That helps put things in perspective.”

The Dec. 20 fire gutted the inside of the Route 41 home and drew firefighters from Readfield, Monmouth, Augusta and Winthrop.

Brooks said firefighters raised about $1,100 for the family, and the group also was presented another $100 so the technical center students and Bateman could buy dinner while they were out shopping. He also said clothing and other items have been donated to help with the fire recovery.

“Hopefully this will at least be a good start to get you going,” Brooks said he told Bateman.

Pottle and Bateman are staying in an apartment provided by the mother of a Winthrop firefighter.

Bateman, who has been a junior firefighter for about a year, said she plans to become a full-fledged firefighter when she’s old enough.

“I want to help people,” she said. “I plan to go all the way (in firefighting). I might have to take the chief’s spot some day.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

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