HALLOWELL — Mike Grant has been Hallowell’s fire chief for 33 years. He isn’t sure how much longer he or the department will be around.

That’s because of the continued discussion of the future of Hallowell’s fire protection services, which he said has been “bantered back and forth for years.”

“I just can’t work like this, so I’m not intending to seek reappointment at the end of the year,” Grant said by phone Tuesday afternoon. “It’s detrimental to my health, and I’m constantly losing sleep over this. It wears on you.”

Last month, Augusta City Manager William Bridgeo said he had informal talks with Hallowell Mayor Mark Walker about hiring Augusta to provide fire services for Hallowell, but those talks have been called “very preliminary” by numerous city officials.

Hallowell Fire Chief Mike Grant talks about the plans for the department on Wednesday at the fire station.

Hallowell Fire Chief Mike Grant talks about the plans for the department on Wednesday at the fire station. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Walker appointed a fire services committee in January and charged it with looking at fire protection services without factoring in the need for a new fire station. Hallowell has known for quite some time that its facility, built in 1829 as a town hall, does not meet the standards of a modern-day fire station – it lacks many modern features including automatic bay doors and higher ceilings to accommodate newer equipment.

The committee has met several times already, and Chairman Bob Duplessie said Wednesday to expect a report by the end of the year.

“The study is ongoing and there have been discussions with Augusta, but there have also been other discussions about how we can keep fire services in Hallowell, too,” he said. “They’ve been informal discussions, and we don’t want any overreaction at this point, because there hasn’t been any factual information from the committee.”

Fire Chief Mike Grant looks at his former office in the 1899 section of the building during a tour on Wednesday of the Hallowell fire station.

Fire Chief Mike Grant looks at his former office in the 1899 section of the building during a tour on Wednesday of the Hallowell fire station. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Hallowell commissioned a review of its fire protections services in 2011. It listed the pros and cons of contract service, creating a public safety department, merging with another department or a functional consolidation of departments, but the review didn’t make a recommendation.

Grant believes that if “we didn’t need a new fire station, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.”

He estimated about $1 million would be needed for a new fire station and that it should be expected to last close to 50 years. Grant said contracting with Augusta for the same length of time would cost the city more. He said a number of figures have been thrown around, including $130,000 per year, but other officials said it’s too soon to say how much a service contract would cost.

City Manager Nate Rudy met with Walker and Grant last week and requested that Grant make a written proposal for how he envisions fire services moving forward. Rudy said he asked Grant to work with Duplessie to come up with specific criteria for the Fire Services Committee to review so “the committee could make an informed recommendation to the City Council.”

Rudy said the claim that the city wants to get rid of the Fire Department “is categorically ridiculous.” He said the city has valued the department’s contribution and dedication to the community since it was formed in 1790, but he can’t say for sure what decision ultimately will be made.