A former member of the Orr’s and Bailey Islands Fire Department may face criminal charges after he allegedly used several firetrucks from the Bailey Island fire station to try to pull his personal truck out of the snow on Valentine’s Day.
The man, whose name has not been released because no charges have been filed, allegedly entered the Bailey Island fire station near the southern end of Route 24 in Harpswell early the morning of Feb. 14 and took several firetrucks in succession out of the station in an attempt to tow his own truck, damaging the fire department’s vehicles, according to Mike Helfgott, president of the fire department’s board of directors.
Just after 8 a.m., a fire department captain reported the incident to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, according to Capt. Don Goulet of the sheriff’s department. Goulet said the fire department captain called from the Bailey Island station, where he had gone with the man.
The man, who lives on one of the two islands at the end of Route 24, also known as Harpswell Islands Road, was taken to Mid Coast Hospital for evaluation. Goulet said there was no evidence of drugs or alcohol or of any injury, but “there was a question of whether or not the person involved was acting odd.”
“To the best of my knowledge, the former firefighter has a history of doing wonderful work for the department and the town, but apparently … he had some kind of incident,” Helfgott said Tuesday. “This is a tragedy on so many levels. This is someone who until recently has been a member of the department. We need to let the facts take us where they take us.”
Goulet said the Orr’s and Bailey Island Fire Department will decide whether to pursue charges against the man, but that as of Tuesday, they had not reached a decision.
Firefighters from the department, which counts fewer than 20 volunteer members, spent Feb. 14 returning the trucks to service, Helfgott said. Harpswell’s other two volunteer fire departments, in Harpswell Neck and Cundy’s Island, provided coverage. Helfgott said.
Harpswell’s three fire departments are 501(c)3 nonprofits with separate chiefs and boards of directors, according to Town Administrator Kristi Eiane. The town contributes money to each department, purchases the firetrucks and leases them to the departments, she said. The departments are required to provide insurance for each truck.
Helfgott said a damage estimate will not be known until later this week, but he said the incident will not cost taxpayers money.
“We’re going to be made whole,” he said. “The town is going to be made whole. I know a number of people were initially upset because they thought we were going to have to shell out more money, but that’s not the case. The claim is being processed and the damage will be covered.”