Oakland firefighters respond early Wednesday to a blaze at 89 South Alpine St. Photo courtesy of Oakland Fire-Rescue Department

OAKLAND — A man escaped without injury early Wednesday after fire destroyed his Oakland home in what the local Fire Department said was the first blaze in town since full-time staffing was added.

With an employee already at the fire station when the call came in at about 1 a.m., volunteer firefighters were able to assemble more quickly and respond to the scene, according to Fire Chief Dave Coughlin.

“This was the first structure fire in Oakland since we added full-time staffing, so we were able to get the first unit there within minutes,” Coughlin said in an interview Wednesday morning, adding it probably saved about five minutes in response time. “Six months ago, there would have been no one here at the station (when the 1 a.m. call came in). It makes things move a little faster. One of the reasons we wanted full-time staffing was having that night coverage.”

At the annual Town Meeting in May, Oakland voters agreed to spend $469,000 to turn the town’s part-time volunteer Fire Department into one that is full time with a paid staff, a move officials said was prompted by steady increases in fire and medical calls and a decrease in the availability of on-call volunteer firefighters.

Following voter approval, the Oakland Fire-Rescue Department hired four full-time firefighters to assist with operations, Coughlin said. That has enabled the department to have at least one firefighter at the station during overnight hours, in addition to others working during the day, for 24-hour station coverage.

When the dispatch call came in at about 1 a.m. Wednesday, crews were sent to 89 South Alpine St. and arrived within a few minutes. The man who owns the house had already escaped uninjured.


The unidentified man had insurance on the property, which Coughlin said was likely destroyed by flames.

About 25 firefighters responded to the fire, with crews from Belgrade, Rome, Sidney, Smithfield and Waterville assisting the Oakland Fire Department. Oakland police and Delta Ambulance also responded.

Coughlin said the cause of the fire was believed to be accidental, “most likely electrical in origin.”

Crews had the fire doused in about 40 minutes.

“There was a little breeze from the wind,” Coughlin said, “but not enough to affect us too much.”

As for the full-time staffing, Coughlin said it began in July and he is pleased to see the 24-hour program working well.

“We’ve been fairly busy with runs and calls, EMS and accidents,” Coughlin said. “This house fire was the first one with the full-time crew, and it helped make a difference.”

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