KITTERY, Maine — Town residents will soon begin to see a new ambulance company driving around, following the purchase of American Ambulance by Stewart's Ambulance.
Town Manager Kendra Amaral announced the new emergency provider to the Town Council Monday night, where she emphasized residents shouldn’t expect any disruption of service during the transition period between providers.
Amaral said Kittery Fire Chief David O’Brien was involved closely in the review of the sale and transition, as well as the assessment of Stewart's Ambulance as a provider. Amaral said the same purchase has occurred at a number of Maine locations. Stewart's will also service the town of Eliot.
Per O’Brien’s recommendation, Amaral told the council she has agreed to accept Stewart's Ambulance as the town’s new service provider for the remainder of the American Ambulance contract, for which Stewart's has agreed to abide by all current terms, conditions and requirements, including the upkeep of the Walker Street station.
“It is our understanding there was no staff turnover,” Amaral said. She noted residents will begin to see ambulance lettering change over in the coming weeks.
In other related news, the council scheduled a public hearing for March 25 on the topic of incorporating the director of emergency management position into O’Brien’s duties as fire chief. Amaral said one of the council’s recent goals tasked her with looking at the fire chief position, to determine if it should be moved to full-time. During his long tenure with the town, O’Brien has been considered a part-time employee. The Kittery Fire Department is a "call" department.
Amaral said considering the number of hours O’Brien works, and his responsibilities, she decided to move his position to full-time effective Jan. 1, which did not require Town Council approval. Within her review of the position, Amaral said it made sense to incorporate emergency management, “creating a nice bridge between public safety response teams,” she said.
Because adding director of emergency management to O’Brien’s position would be a change in the town code, it merited the scheduling of a public hearing date.
“Though Chief O’Brien has not indicated an intention to retire yet, it is important to be considering succession planning,” Amaral wrote in her memo to council. “When Chief O’Brien retires, the town will want to attract/retain a fire chief who is capable of performing at the same level and with the same success as David. This becomes infinitely more challenging as a part-time position.”