Ellsworth's new Fire Chief Scott Guillerault and Deputy Fire Chief Gary Saunders who is retiring on August 6th after 25 years of service to the City of Ellsworth met with local media Thursday at the Riverside Cafe in Downtown Ellsworth.

(L-R) Ellsworth Fire Chief Scott Guillerault and Deputy Fire Chief Gary Saunders Photo Chris Popper

Guillerautl was hired as Fire Chief and Director of Emergency Management and began working for the City of Ellsworth on June 21st.

A native Mainer, Guillerault has most recently been the Volunteer Fire Rescue Coordinator for the Jasper County Fire Rescue and Ridgeland Fire Rescue in South Carolina. He is a 30 year veteran of the Fire Service and started as a volunteer in Southern Maine.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Fire Science from Columbia Southern University and holds Fire Officer 3, Fire Instructor 2 and Firefighter 2 certifications from the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress. Additionally he is a nationally registered Paramedic.

In addition he was the Head Coach of the Erskine College Division 2 Women's Lacrosse Program from 2014-18

When Chief Guillerault, Deputy Chief Saunders and I sat down today, we talked about the challenges facing the Fire Department and Emergency Services in Ellsworth, which is compounded by the fact that Ellsworth is the Gateway to Downeast Maine and a Service Center for Hancock County.

Right now there are 4 full time firefighters on per shift, which is what is budgeted for. Beginning on January 1, 2022, they will add a firefighter to start the process to get to 5 full time firefighters per shift.

They are now working in a station that was built in 1935. The station currently houses 3 engines, a ladder truck, a heavy rescue vehicle and 2 ambulances. There is no more room! Currently there are 8 people living in the station, with the 4 people from Northern Light who operate the ambulances. The station wasn't designed for 8 people to live in it. Things will get a little better in the end of July as the 2 ambulances and 4 Northern Light ambulance attendants will be moving into a separate location in the Downtown/Central Ellsworth area.

Ellsworth Fire Department personnel are trained firefighters and emergency 1st responders. They have a few personnel trained as Advanced EMT's, but because of licensing, they are not permitted to start IV's on their own. These advanced EMTs can start IV's when assisting Northern Light's ambulance staff.

One of the issues facing the City, is that Northern Light's ambulances are serving 14 communities. There have been times when both have been out on calls and Ellsworth has had to rely on mutual aid with extended time for transport. As the call volume increases, this poses a risk to Ellsworth residents.

The City of Ellsworth has just signed a 3 year contract with Northern Light. One of the things that Chief Guillerault is looking at is if Ellsworth needs their own ambulance to provide transport. However, with that comes would come an added need for staff. It takes 6 EMT/Paramedics to staff 1 ambulance 24-7. And with the call volume, is there a demonstrable need for 2 ambulances?

As a side note, I was on the Bangor City Council when former Bangor Fire Chief Jeff Cammack asked the City to start ambulance transport services, and it has been the best thing for the City of Bangor and the Bangor Fire Department.

With Deputy Chief Saunders' impending retirement, there is a need for new fire and life safety educators, a position that Deputy Chief Saunders held. Chief Guillerault has appointed Firefighters Kate Joseph and Ken Lamoine to fill these positions.

Congratulations Chief Guillerault and welcome to Ellsworth and thank you Deputy Chief Saunders for your service to the City of Ellsworth and enjoy your well earned retirement.