2015-08-28 / Community

News Briefs

Scott Hendrick is sworn in as Kennenbunk’s newest patrol officer. Scott Hendrick is sworn in as Kennenbunk’s newest patrol officer. Department considers alarm effort a success

Kennebunk Fire Chief Jeffrey Rowe is touting his department’s inaugural effort to equip all local homes with smoke detectors as a big success, while vowing to continue the program.

Prompted in part by the death of 25-year-old Kyle Szlosek in a June 22 house fire at 305 Cat Mousam Road — reportedly the first fire fatality in Kennebunk in more than 20 years – local firefighters teamed with the Red Cross to distribute and install smoke detectors for free for any local resident requesting one.

After first canvassing town and taking orders, 38 members of the Red Cross and the fire department set out in ambulances, fire trucks, and other emergency vehicles on Saturday, Aug. 8, to install 59 regular smoke detectors and one detector for a hearing-impaired resident.

“We went out en mass in four different neighborhoods,” Rowe said. “I hope we didn’t throw a panic into anyone.”

The detector for the hearing-impaired was installed for a young deaf boy, and makes his bed shake if it senses a whiff of smoke.

“You should have seen him smile,” Rowe said. “I would say this was a huge success for our first outing. We are going to continue this (program).”

To request a free smoke detector from the Kennebunk Fire Department, email smokedetectors@kennebunkmaine.us or leave a voice message by calling 604-1633.

Fees set for fire rescue requests

The town of Kennebunk has instituted a set of fees to be charged to private entities requesting dedicated fire and rescue services at special events.

According to Fire Chief Jeffrey Rowe, the department has historically responded to such requests by advising that its units remain on call, and would, of course, respond if an incident occurred. However, given the increasing number of requests for road races, festivals and other functions, Rowe said he had recently began to fear the likelihood that an incident could overtax his department.

“We are becoming busier with regular business to the point where we cannot assure this service,” he wrote in a June 17 memo to the town manager.

The new rates would guarantee emergency medical coverage of events by charging a fee of $30 per hour for personnel, a rate set by taking the average overtime wage paid to the town’s emergency personnel.

The rate schedule also includes fees of $32.50 per hour for rescue units, and a range of $80 to $90 per hour for fire engines.

The ladder truck, if requested, would cost $150 per hour, while lower rates were set for tankers, brush trucks and squad cars.

All of the rates, Rowe said, are taken from fees the town is allowed to charge FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) as reimbursement following a response to events covered by federal disaster declarations.

“This isn’t going to a required fee. It’s just for the customer that wants that special protection,” Rowe said, adding the fire department will continue to cover town-related public events at no cost.

Selectmen voted unanimously at their Aug. 11 meeting to approve the new fees. The police department, it was noted, has long charged for so-called “special details” requested by private groups.

“Frankly, I assumed we were already doing this,” Chairman Kevin Donovan said.

Police department announces hiring of new patrol officer

The Kennnebunk Police Department has gained some, and lost some. At the Aug. 11 selectmen’s meeting, Police Chief Robert MacKenzie announced he has hired Scott Hendrick as the town’s newest patrol officer.

Hendrick, who began work Aug. 10, comes to Kennebunk from the York County Sheriff’s Office, where he logged seven years as a deputy. Before that, he spent a decade as a police officer in Wells.

In addition to being a certified emergency medical technician, rescue boat operator and hazardous materials team member, Hendrick is certified in methods of instruction through the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, including the ability to conduct classes and field training in firearms, mechanics of arrest, restraint and control instructor, and active shooter scenarios.

“We are pleased to have him on board,” Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said. “We can begin to offer some in-house training with the skill set that he has, which will save us some money in the long run.”

Meanwhile, Kennebunk PD is bidding goodbye after seven years to Deputy Chief Dan Jones, who left Aug. 14 to accept the post of chief at the Gorham Police Department.

“This is a definite loss for our town and a tremendous gain for Gorham,” said Kevin Donovan, chairman of the Kennebunk Board of Selectmen, who, as a retired Maine state trooper, knows something of the job requirements.

Kennebunk SHAPEs up

Kennebunk has again been recognized by the Maine Department of Labor for its “exemplary safety and health management system.”

Following recent reviews, the town was once again granted a Safety and Health Award for Public Employers (SHAPE) designation by SafetyWorks!, a division of DOL’s Bureau of Labor Standards.

“This does affect our insurance rates and lowers them,” Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said. “There’s only about a half a dozen towns in the state that have achieved this. So, it’s a tremendous feather in our cap.”

Although several fire departments, schools and water districts have won SHAPE certification following requested SafetyWorks! inspections, which includes providing proof they’ve lowered their “lost workday injury and illness” rates, only Brunswick, Caribou, Fairfield, Jay, Kennebunk and Presque Isle have succeeded in passing all of their municipal departments though the process.

The quasi-municipal Kennebunk Kennebunkport and Wells Water District also is SHAPE certified.

As a benefit of the yearlong certification, Kennebunk will be exempt from spot inspections by the Department of Labor.

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