MADISON — Anson, Madison and Starks officials are considering combining the communities’ three all-volunteer fire departments to control costs and ease staffing problems.

“Regionalizing fire protection services might provide efficiencies that will help each town save money,” according to a letter to the town officials by Madison Fire Chief Roger Lightbody, who was hired to study the idea. “It should also provide a better method of handling regulations, new training and required record keeping. It is unclear whether regionalization of fire protection service will be possible, economically feasible or politically palatable.”

Lightbody’s hiring was approved by the boards of selectmen from the three towns, according to Jack Ducharme, secretary of the Anson-Madison-Starks Emergency Services Board of Directors, to whom Lightbody will report. The board runs a combined ambulance service for the three communities.

As the board’s consultant, Lightbody will gather information, meet with area fire departments and town officials and develop a plan to see whether the idea is effective, Ducharme said.

Ducharme said state regulatory pressures placed on area fire departments is becoming more difficult to fulfill. There are times, he said, when it is difficult to get enough volunteers or the necessary equipment to fire scenes.

“The goal of this project is to provide the best fire protection service for the citizens of the area within a budget that the taxpayers can afford,” he said.

Neither Lightbody nor Joe Miller, president of the emergency services board, was available Friday for comment.

Madison Town Manager Dana Berry said the towns have discussed a regional approach to the all-volunteer departments in the past.

Berry said it is still too early to predict the outcome of Lightbody’s study.

“The reason the AMS Emergency Services board wants somebody to look at it is to see how feasible this all is,” Berry said. “I think it’s too soon to make the judgment whether it’s going to be a joint effort or whether it’s going to stay as separate departments. I know that all of the departments are struggling with manpower.”

A timeline has not been announced on the filing of Lightbody’s report.

 

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