News Release

Quick response by fire department prevents loss of education program building

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Date: July 3, 2018
Contact: Christie Anastasia, 207-288-8806

BAR HARBOR, MAINE – Winter Harbor/Gouldsboro Fire Department responded to a building fire alarm early Sunday morning, July 1 at 1:52 a.m. on behalf of the National Park Service on Schoodic Peninsula. The quick response of Winter Harbor/ Gouldsboro Fire Department prevented sparks from a ceiling heater from turning into an active fire and burning down the entire building. The building, known as the Bunkhouse, was unoccupied at the time and no one was hurt or injured.

In this event, the Hancock Regional Communications Center (RCC) in Ellsworth received the call from the fire alarm company (which is a part of the local 9-1-1 system) and an emergency notification went out to the local fire department. A dozen volunteer firefighters and four fire engines responded to the call. When firefighters gained entry to the building, the hallway was filled with smoke. Firefighters used an infrared camera to identify the location of the highest temperatures and the source of smoke, which was a sparking ceiling heater. Electrical power was shut down for the building and firefighters used a ladder to reach the ceiling heater and remove the surrounding ceiling tiles. Lit embers were present in the ceiling area of the electric heater. The ceiling heater was removed and the fire alarm and smoke detectors reset for a potential future event.  

“I am very grateful for the assistance of local communities and the Winter Harbor/ Gouldsboro Fire Department,” said Superintendent Kevin Schneider. “The building the firefighters saved is very important to over 900 students a year who come to stay near the ocean for multiple days while learning in Acadia National Park.”

The Bunkhouse building serves as temporary housing for middle school students staying in Acadia National Park for multiple nights. If this building had burned down it would have been a tremendous loss for a unique immersive experience near the ocean for local and greater Maine students. The Bunkhouse building was the former bowling lanes when the Navy occupied the buildings. Students also use the adjacent Dorr Hall building for classroom space (which also could have caught fire) and this building was used as a movie theatre and a day care when the Navy occupied the buildings. If students had been in the building, fire drill procedures are in place to care for and account for students and another building would become a temporary bunkhouse.

Mutual Aid Fire Department Agreements encourage and allow emergency responses and resources to be shared and combined across landscapes to protect lives and property. For example, when the decommissioned Naval Base was transferred to the National Park Service the Navy fire engine was transferred to the Winter Harbor Fire Department to increase local fire response resources. In the event of larger scale emergencies, multiple local, state, and federal fire resources are readied and prepared to share firefighters and firefighting equipment.

Last updated: July 4, 2018

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