On the morning of September 16, 2019, a call rang out. A truck responded. Within seconds disaster struck. An explosion rocked the town and took the life of a first responder and injured many others.
What followed that explosion was not only shock and grief, but an outpouring of support from all corners of the state, folks who came there to make sure Farmington would be safe while the fire department, suddenly bereft of its finest members, recovered.
Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.
Following the explosion at the LEAP facility in my hometown last year, caused as we now know by a gas leak, I directed the Department of Public Safety to determine if any fire departments in Maine still lacked gas detection capacity.
The Department of Public Safety, the Maine Fire Chief’s Association and the Maine Municipal Association surveyed all Maine fire departments. Twenty departments responded that they had no way to detect the presence of a gas leak while they were responding to calls.
Every fire department in Maine ought to be able to detect the presence of gas and take steps to address the situation safely, as they work to protect others.
Using my State Contingent Account as Governor, for a small amount of money I purchased twenty sophisticated gas detection meters which will be provided to every fire department who said they need one.
These are the fire departments of Brownfield, Burlington, Cherryfield, Corinth, Danforth, Dixmont, Hiram, Littleton, Machias, Marshfield, Millinocket, Minot, North Haven, North Lakes, Old Orchard Beach, Portage Lake, Roxbury, Washburn, Waterboro and Winterport. They will all receive meters and any training they need to use them from the Maine Emergency Management Agency. I also purchased two extra meters in the event other departments need them.
I promised the people of Farmington last year, including our so resilient Chief Terry Bell, who was severely injured and who lost his brave brother Captain Michael Bell in the blast, and the people of towns all across this state, I promised them that we were going to make sure every department has what they need so this tragedy is never repeated.
I hope that these new gas detections meters will prevent tragedies like the one in Farmington and spare us the painful loss of another heroic first responder.
On behalf of the people of Maine, I thank all of our first responders who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe and I will continue to do everything I can to keep you safe in return.
This is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.