2013-04-05 / In the Know

Corporate assistance benefits the fire department

By B. Michael Thurlow Special contributor

Over the years the Scarborough Fire Department has benefited by the generosity and financial assistance provided by many small local businesses as well as large corporations.

When I first joined the department in the mid- 1970s many local employers had policies that allowed workers to leave when the fire whistle blew.

Yes, back in those days we had horns strategically located throughout town and firefighters needed to count the number of blasts and consult a chart or little red book to figure out where the fire was in the days before pagers and portable radios.

Of course, back then the department was much smaller and the number of calls we responded to were a fraction of what they are today. I lived in Pine Point and that was the company I joined. For years I can remember multiple employees of Snow’s Canning dropping whatever they were doing when the horn blew four and leaving the factory to respond to the alarm.

In fact my dear friend, neighbor and former Snow’s CEO, Neil Douglass, was one of them.

For many years this same type of corporate support was extended by dozens of employers from contractors to service stations and every type of employer between. Most of them never asked their employees (our members) to even dock their pay for the time they were away, it was just the right thing to do to help a neighbor in need somewhere in the community and service to the town was encouraged.

Certainly times have changed and it is more difficult to be as free with an employee’s time as it was when the demand was far less than it is today.

That being said, a number of local employers are still very generous in this regard and we are extremely grateful for that support.

There are also a number of businesses that have provided food or coffee over the years for our mobile canteen crew to distribute at large or at long-term events, many times at no cost to the community.

For a number of years now the Poland Spring Bottling Co., has donated hundreds of cases of bottled water to public safety departments and other agencies and nonprofits across Maine. This very generous gift provides our fire department and many others with clean quality water so we can make sure our personnel are properly hydrated at emergency scenes.

Firefighting and practical training exercises are very strenuous activities that require our members to drink a large volume of water to remain healthy and recover from the heat and excursion of the job. If we had to purchase the bottled water we use every year for these purposes it would cost the taxpayers of Scarborough a fair amount of money.

Fortunately, even though Poland Spring is now owned by a multi-national corporation, Nestle Waters North America, Inc., they have maintained that local small business philosophy of giving back to the communities they serve.

Thank you to Poland Spring and all the small and not-so-small corporate partners that have in the past and in many cases continue, to support our mission. We very much appreciate it and wanted to publicly acknowledge your assistance and our appreciation.

If you have any questions about this article you may contact me at mthurl@ci.scarborough.me.us or 730- 4201. B. Michael Thurlow is fire chief for Scarborough.

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