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Etna Selectboard Ends Part Of Fire Departments Mutual Aid Pact 

Etna firefighters will no longer automatically help out neighboring fire departments. Selectmen voted unanimously to end the practice of automatic aid in an attempt to trim the town’s budget.Tonight the board meets to explain their decision to Etna’s firefighters. Etna had a mutual aid agreement with Carmel, Stetson, and Levant. Whenever a call came in to any of the four departments the other three would also respond.Etna’s selectboard says their town’s fire crews will no longer automatically respond to the other towns calls, but will respond if asked to help out. Larry Willis is the President of the Fire Chief’s Association and he says waiting to respond could be risky. “The reason we have lights and sirens is because seconds count in our business,” Willis says. “The law recognizes that, that’s why they give us lights and sirens to use for emergencies. And afterwards it’s always plain that you didn’t need that many trucks or whatever but the initial call there’s a a few minutes, the more rural you are the more minutes it is, you really don’t know.”Etna’s selectboard says the fire department will respond to their neighboring towns if they’re requested by Penobscot County dispatch. Etna selectman Andy Watson says the town’s taxes have increased 42% over the past year and they need to start saving money. Etna’s Fire Chief, Walter Gibbons says the matter should not be decided solely by the selectboard. Gibbons says this is a major issue and should be put in a town warrant to eventually let the residents of Etna decide the proper course of action.