Rockland firefighters / emergency medical technicians responded to more than 2,000 calls, including 300 suspected cases of COVID-19, during the pandemic.
But in all that time, the teams never changed their schedules, worked from home or strayed from the path of serving and protecting this community, the president of the Rockland Professional Firefighters Union told Rockland city councilors on Wednesday. evening September 8.
Firefighter Carl Anderson has asked councilors to consider this effort when he spends more than $ 700,000 in federal American Recovery Act grants. He pointed out that the grants can be used to provide a bonus to eligible workers, including public safety workers who performed essential work during the public health emergency.
“We understand that when allocating funds, it is a long and arduous process to evenly distribute and monitor the needs of the community. I ask City Council to step up and join other cities and communities across the state as well as across the country that have responded to this pandemic by rewarding your first responders for their commitment, dedication and bravery during this time, ” Anderson said. “The future is unknown and with the current events sweeping our country we could be in another round of this level of urgency. One thing that is not unknown is the commitment and dedication of your Town of Rockland first responders. We will remain diligent and ready to go at all times. “
Anderson pointed out that the Rockland Fire Department has not had any members testing positive for COVID-19 and has a 100% vaccination rate.
“We don’t want a pat on the back or a thank you for your service because we understand that everyone in this community knows the importance of our relationship and would never take it for granted,” he continued. .
“All of the brave men and women of the Rockland Fire Department showed up every day in the midst of an unknown pandemic, working diligently with Maine EMS and CDC guidelines that changed daily. We have all been cautious and ignored our own safety and that of our loved ones back home to ensure that we not only do our job of protecting the great citizens of this community, but remain steadfast throughout the county. fundraisers for families in need, vaccination clinics, callbacks to the fire station for extra staff due to the overwhelming volume of calls in the county, and of course, let’s not forget to answer over 2000 emergency calls including structural fires, cardiac arrests, car crashes and COVID- 19 positive patients, ”Anderson said.
On June 30, Knox County Commissioners approved the use of part of the county’s $ 7.7 million federal aid – known as the US bailout – for retention bonuses for correctional officers, patrol officers and civil procedure officers. This consisted of an additional $ 200 per week until the end of 2021.
Commissioners initially refused to provide the same additional salary to emergency communications dispatchers, but turned the tide and plan to vote on that additional salary at their meeting on Tuesday, September 14.
Other cities in Maine and New Hampshire used money for their first responders.
Later at the Rockland City Council meeting on September 8 following Anderson’s intervention, city officials briefly discussed the possibility of using the federal grant for firefighters. City manager Tom Luttrell said there would be a lot of work to be done if the city were to use the money for this purpose.
Mayor Ed Glaser spoke about the request.
“Rockland has a lot of infrastructure projects but our number one resource is the employees,” said the mayor. “I want to find a way to reward them.
City Councilor Louise MacLellan-Ruf said she agreed.
The Council has not set a date to discuss the use of federal grants.