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Newburgh’s entire Volunteer Fire Department quits

Newburgh Fire Department Chief Glen Williamson (left) and Assistant Chief Keith Miller bring extra air packs to fellow firefighters at the scene of a house fire in Carmel, Sept. 21, 2010. (Bangor Daily News/Bridget Brown)

NEWBURGH, Maine (BDN) -- All 11 members of Newburgh’s volunteer fire department quit their jobs during Monday’s selectmen’s meeting, officials said.

The selectmen were meeting to vote whether to reinstate former Chief Glen Williamson, who officially resigned in August. During the meeting, the firefighters presented the selectmen with a list of demands, which were rejected, according to a statement from the town.

That’s when the firefighters and former chief walked out.

“The board was presented with a list of three demands by representatives of the fire department,” the statement said. “These demands were limiting in having a workable relationship with the chief and were rejected. Because of this rejection, the fire department personnel in attendance resigned en masse.”

Newburgh officials have “been conferring with neighboring towns and their fire departments in anticipation” of the action, the statement said.

Hampden and Carmel officials said their fire departments would respond if there was a fire or other emergency in Newburgh. Hermon and Levant also are mutual aid partners who would be called.

Messages left for Town Manager Cynthia Grant and Selectman Brian Carlisle were not immediately returned. The town has chosen a new chief who was scheduled to be appointed Tuesday, according to the town’s statement, which did not name the new chief.

“Right now, we have all quit,” Williamson, who said he’d been serving as acting chief even though he resigned Aug. 2, said. “The firefighters gave her [the town manager] and the selectmen an ultimatum to put me back in as chief or they were walking. The board said they didn’t like ultimatums, so we walked.”

Carmel Fire Chief Ryan Simpson said word of the mass quitting spread quickly among local firefighters. Hampden Public Safety Director Joe Rogers was informed of the mass departure Tuesday morning by the Bangor Daily News.

“Hopefully they can find a solution to this mass walkout,” Rogers said. “Because most of us do this because we want to help.”

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