The Winslow Town Office is shown with the town’s fire department in 2022. Firefighters are raising concerns about the town’s plan to consolidate the fire department with police into a single public safety space. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

WINSLOW — Town officials are still in favor of merging police and fire operations under a consolidated public safety department, despite complaints from 11 firefighters last month that they feel micromanaged and have low morale after a months-long trial-run of the merger.

“I’m on board with (the public safety) department,” Town Council Chairman Peter Drapeau said Monday. “It makes sense.”

A six-month trial of the public safety department is coming to an end June 30, at which time it will automatically become a permanent town fixture unless a council member asks it to be repealed and brought again before the council to reconsider. Should the plan move forward, the town’s day-to-day police and fire operations would each be led by a deputy chief, who would report to a director of public safety for administrative concerns.

While no action was taken by the council on Monday, officials discussed the end of the trial at length. At a public hearing in May, Winslow fire department Lt. Shawn Stetson said that in a recent poll of the town’s 12 career firefighters, 11 said they no longer supported the merge.

“Morale in the firehouse has dropped significantly from the deputy chief position down to the lowest member,” Stetson said at the meeting. “We feel we have lost our identity and ability to have local control over our minor budget and training requests.”

Stetson said that firefighters headed into the trial open-minded, but that in nearly six months only one of the promised monthly meetings between police and fire staff has actually taken place. Stetson also said at the meeting the interim public safety director, Leonard Macdaid, has been micromanaging the department and recently went out for bid on a new truck without consulting anyone.


“We feel as a whole that we are being micromanaged,” Stetson said. “We fear that a drop in morale could affect our staffing situations in the future.”

Winslow Deputy Fire Chief Scott Bolduc could not be immediately reached for additional comment Tuesday.

Town Manager Erica LaCroix and Macdaid both said in response the Town Council had requested additional quotes for a new tanker truck, and that no bids had been accepted yet.

“This does not mean that we are not getting the tanker that you all selected. It does mean that we have to investigate all options,” LaCroix told Stetson.

Winslow Police Chief Leonard Macdaid is seen in his office at the Police Department at the Winslow Town Office in Winslow. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

During that May public hearing, Macdaid apologized for upsetting any firefighters and said this was the first he was hearing of any complaints about the public safety department trial. He asked town council members — none of whom were present — to dismantle the public safety department following the trial given the firefighters’ dissatisfaction.

“I have no use to do this anymore if you guys don’t want to do it, (because) then we’re wasting our time,” Macdaid said in May.


But on Monday, four town officials spoke up to say the trial has been a success, and that the firefighters’ complaints point to a communication issue that can be resolved.

“I’m a firm believer that the majority of the rank and file is in favor of this,” said Drapeau, the council chairman.

Winslow Town Council Chairman Peter Drapeau Morning Sentinel file

Drapeau said the merge makes sense for the town. Already, he said, the town is saving $50,000 to $75,000 in wages with the merge. He also said “tons” more grant money from the state is made available to public safety than to individual police and fire departments.

“The budgets are going up, how much more money do you people want to spend? This department will save money,” he said.

Winslow’s budget for the next year, approved last month, represents a $1.9 million increase over current spending.

LaCroix, though she said the trial was rushed in its implementation, said she does think merging police and fire operations would be good for the town and save it money.


“We have had no degradation of service, despite going short staffed with the (police) officers that we’ve lost, we’ve actually added fire department (personnel) and several call force employees since the inception of the public safety department trial,” LaCroix said. “In my mind, the fact that there’s no detriment that we’ve seen means that it was successful.”

On the firefighters’ grievances, LaCroix said no one has sat down with their superiors to actually file official complaints about the trial or about interim public safety director Macdaid. To councilor Joseph “Rocky” Gravel, the firefighters’ issue is not with the organizational structure of the public safety department, but with a lack of communication.

An ambulance is moved at the Winslow Fire Department on Jan. 10. Firefighters are raising concerns about the town’s plan to consolidate the fire department with police into a single public safety space. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

“All the parties involved need to step up, sit down with each other and communicate,” said Gravel, a former Winslow Fire Department captain who retired after 38 years of service, adding that he was in support of the merged department.

Drapeau proposed a straw poll vote Monday that would give the town manager the authority to commence the hiring process for the public safety department on Tuesday, but LaCroix asked that the council first decide if they’ll be repealing the ordinance on June 30 before she starts putting effort into the hiring process.

Councilor Ray Caron said Monday that he’s against implementing the public safety department full-time and suggested he would move to have it repealed.

The council is expected to take the issue up again at its July meeting, once the trial period has officially ended.

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