INDUSTRY — There have been some concerns expressed, some unknowns, but Industry Fire Chief Anthony Howard hopes an agreement with Farmington for fire services is a step in the right direction.

“Something needs to be done,” Howard said in a phone interview with the Franklin Journal Wednesday morning, Feb. 22. “This isn’t just an Industry issue, it is all across Maine, and even 90% of the United States probably in rural communities. It is hard as a volunteer department.”

People are not volunteering for their communities, Howard said. People who had been involved are moving away, retiring, there are no new people stepping up, he said.

The Industry Fire Department wasn’t part of the discussions with Farmington, Howard said. “I was a little upset at first, it sounded like we couldn’t do the administration. That is something we have always done.

“I don’t know the specifics. The selectmen came up with the idea. If this does work out, more towns could get involved at a lower price.”

Farmington selectmen approved a memorandum of understanding with Industry at the Feb. 14 meeting that would provide fire/rescue services to Industry pending approval by Industry voters at the March 11 annual Town Meeting. The agreement would be for a year at a cost of $30,000, based on the understanding that Industry would continue to budget for operating expenses related to the operations, staff, and equipment at the Industry Fire Department.


Howard said he thought the concern for selectmen was what happens when Industry doesn’t have enough people [in the fire department]. They are planning for the future, a lot guys are getting old, he noted. The department has younger people for the emergency medical part, it’s the people that go inside burning buildings, he added.

Firefighting has changed dramatically in the last 25 years, Howard said. People can’t just sign up and go, there is training required, he noted.

“People can’t afford to take two weeks for training, there’s no reimbursement,” Howard said. “It’s not worth it to them. I am lucky, have my own business, I can leave if needed. Most of the department works, can’t.”

Another problem is there should be four people qualified for air packs to provide two in, two out but Industry has three, Howard said. Firefighting doesn’t pay the bills, it’s a passionate hobby, those who do it do so because it is the right thing to do, he added.

“If I was governor, I would look at this, throw some money at this situation,” Howard said. He would also like to see more publicity on the urgent need for more people to get involved with their fire departments.

Howard would like to step down in five years, spend time with his family and grandchildren. He admits it would be hard to stop.


“It is up to the voters to decide what they want to do,” Selectman Chair Lee Ireland said Tuesday night. He hasn’t had anyone approach him about the proposal, has invited people commenting on the Industry community Facebook page to attend board meetings to get questions answered.

“We can’t have an organization without numbers,” Ireland said. “The reality is our problem is the same as is being faced in surrounding communities, the state and New England. Volunteering is not as strong as in years past. Numbers are down.”

Howard said he hasn’t seen the agreement, hopes to meet with Farmington Fire Rescue Chief TD Hardy in the next week or so to see what is expected. He said he wasn’t really involved in the process, had given his recommendations.

Industry is a small town, there are rumors going around that everyone is going to be fired, Howard stated. He thinks this proposal came about because of staffing issues for Livermore Falls Fire Department.

“I have seen Farmington go above and beyond, they do it because it is what is right,” Howard said. “Maybe it is time for something new. It’s hard to be the guinea pig.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.