ELIOT, Maine — Fire Chief Jay Muzeroll expressed concern to the Select Board Thursday that town employees who are also call firefighters may not be allowed to respond to emergencies during their working hours.

Although he said he is not privy to current public works employee union contract negotiations, Muzeroll said he has information that the new contract will place limits on town employees to respond to calls.

Town Manager Dana K. Lee, while not revealing specifics from the contract negotiations, told Muzeroll he should wait until the Select Board ratifies the contract, which he said is in “tentative agreement.”

Muzeroll read a letter to the board emphasizing the fact his department, and most local departments, frequently do not have the staffing they need for fire and other emergency calls. “We arrive with very minimum manpower, sometimes with barely enough to accomplish the task,” he said.

“There is a negotiation of a public works union contract ongoing that involves the response to emergencies by town employees,” Muzeroll said. “Its intent will be to severely restrict or deny availability of fully qualified firefighters that may make a difference to somebody’s life.”

He told the board he was not asked to express his views on any restrictions on town employees who are also firefighters.

Lee said Friday the town is in the final review of the draft contract with the public works employees.

“I think the chief must be unaware of the proposed language that does indeed allow PW employees to respond to fire calls,” Lee said. “There are some conditions, but their responding to fire calls is not disallowed as was portrayed at the meeting.”

The Select Board asked about Fire Department staffing in general. Chairman John “Jack” Murphy asked how many department personnel are required for a call. Muzeroll said four for each truck, a driver, an officer and two firefighters and that sometimes he is the fourth. Without four, a fire is fought only from outside the structure until more help arrives, which may be through the mutual aid network.

Murphy asked if it was time for paid employees. Muzeroll said yes, and that informal discussions will be held soon with the Budget Committee and Lee about per diem firefighters. Firefighters are currently members of the Eliot Firefighters Association and elect the chief and officers. They are considered part-time hourly town employees.

The board planned to speak with Muzeroll about his concerns at the Nov. 8 Select Board meeting.

In other business

Robert Burns of Meadow Lane asked the town to speak for Spinney Creek area residents in response to a Spinney Creek Shellfish application to the Maine Department of Marine Resources to expand its oyster farming operation in Spinney Creek, a salt water pond. The DMR held a recent hearing in Kittery on the application and residents of Eliot and Kittery expressed frustration about the lack of opportunity for public input. Residents were prohibited from addressing anything other than the criteria DMR uses to evaluate aquaculture leases. Views, property values and odors are not on that list.

Spinney Creek Shellfish is owned by Eliot residents Tom and Lori Howell.

The Kittery Town Council agreed Wednesday to write a letter to DMR about residents’ concerns and requesting a second opportunity for public input. The Eliot Select Board also agreed to write a letter. Lee said he would review the Kittery letter before writing one for Eliot.

The state Department of Transportation will reimburse Eliot $37,999 for a salt shed the town built in 1991. Towns throughout the state built salt sheds to prevent chlorine pollution in nearby wells, according to the letter from Peter Coughlan, director of the DOT Community Services Division. Coughlan said it has taken 30 years for higher-priority towns to be reimbursed first. The sheds were built under a state cost-sharing program that allowed towns to avoid getting a Department of Environmental Protection waste discharge license for open salt piles.

The Select Board will hold a hearing Thursday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall on the special town meeting and referendum warrant for the Nov. 6 election. Voting will take place for state, York County and town elections at Marshwood Middle School from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 6.