Reliable volunteers make Rangeley Fire Department successful
RANGELEY, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- When a fire broke out at a condo on Saddleback Mountain in February, it was all hands on deck for the Rangeley Fire Department. A group of volunteers who are as reliable as they come.
There are 28 volunteers that work for the department that is run by Chief Tim Pellerin. As scenic as his town is, the rural views come with some draw backs. The department is responsible for 600 square miles of the state that includes 19 towns, townships and plantations.
"Because our mutual aid is so far away here, it's any where from 45 minutes to an hour for our first mutual aid companies to arrive," said Pellerin. "Essentially we're it for the first hour."
Throughout the years more and more surrounding departments have closed up shop, leaving Rangeley to pick up the slack. It's Chief Pellerin's crew that keeps him from losing sleep at night over his work problems. No one has been to more of these controlled burns than Brian Ellis. He joined the crew 57 years ago when he was a senior in High School.
"Three of us joined the fire department because that way when the siren blew we could get out of school without getting a special appointment," said Ellis with a chuckle.
That high schooler eventually grew up to take the job very seriously. In 1977 he earned the title of fire chief. Today, at 75-years-old, he's the department's oldest volunteer. Its youngest is Camdan Carmichael. A 15-year-old who somehow manages the stress of a quick response time like an old pro. Adrenaline pumping moments make him appreciate the volunteers fighting along side him.
"I love the camaraderie and the brotherhood of it all," said Carmichael. "Even if you're having a bad day they can get you in high spirits."
Several fire chiefs in Maine have asked Pellerin what his secret is. He says it's no secret that his volunteers are what makes his department so successful.
"My greatest asset here are my people and I'm only one, I can't do this job by myself and I'm so thankful that I have the team I have because I'll stand them up against anybody," said Pellerin.
There are two volunteer firefighter openings with the Rangeley Fire Department. To apply, click here.