By J.W. Oliver
Lincoln County Fire Chiefs Association Vice President Walter Morris presents the Firefighter of the Year Award to Allen Spinney during the association’s annual meeting and lobster bake at the South Bristol Fire Department Aug. 19. (J.W. Oliver photo)
Lincoln County’s Firefighter of the Year is a young but accomplished Bristol Mills man who represents the kind of firefighter local departments need more of, according to Bristol’s fire chief.
The Lincoln County Fire Chiefs Association presented its Firefighter of the Year Award to Allen Spinney during the association’s annual meeting and lobster bake at the South Bristol Fire Department Aug. 19.
“Since joining, Allen has been willing to accept all tasks asked of him and has soaked all trainings offered to him up like a sponge,” Bristol Fire Chief Paul Leeman Jr. said in a letter nominating Spinney for the honor.
Spinney has certifications in Basic Firefighter, Firefighter I and II, Fire Instructor I and II, basement and attic fires, hazmat awareness, operations-level vehicle extrication, self-contained breathing apparatus, and SCBA smokehouse training, according to Leeman.
Spinney, 27, now serves as Bristol’s training officer. As training officer, he provides “well-organized trainings” and completes the necessary paperwork to ensure members receive credit for the trainings, according to Leeman.
“He has provided our annual mandatory trainings and, for those new members or members not able to make the original dates, he is always willing to set aside nights that accommodate others’ schedules to get them done,” Leeman said.
Spinney also helps teach the Lincoln County Fire Academy’s Basic Fire Class.
At fire scenes, Spinney “is a competent interior firefighter as well as a pump operator you can trust to keep interior members safe and get the job done,” Leeman said.
“Allen’s love for the town of Bristol and Bristol Fire & Rescue was recently proven by the fact that he and his fiancee, Sarah Longe, purchased a home in Bristol Mills,” Leeman said. “This has all been accomplished through hard work and the determination to remain at Station 3.”
“It is with honor and pride that I nominate Allen Spinney,” Leeman said.
Spinney said he enjoys “the sense of brotherhood” and “being able to help people who aren’t able to help themselves,” whether at a car accident, house fire, or other emergency. “I enjoy being able to help others,” he said in a brief interview after the meeting.
Spinney works in maintenance at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole for his day job. At emergency scenes, “I do whatever I’m told to do,” he said.
Thanks to his diverse training, “I feel confident in most situations the chief would have me be in, anything from actual interior fire attack all the way to traffic control,” Spinney said. “I have done it all, and no job is less important than the others.”
Many Lincoln County fire departments and volunteer fire departments elsewhere around Maine and the U.S. struggle to recruit and retain firefighters, especially firefighters of Spinney’s generation.
“Help out your community,” Spinney said. “There are a lot of things people do behind the scenes to help you out. Sometimes you just don’t realize it. It’s a nice thing to be able to pay people back who have helped you before. Pay it forward.”
Spinney himself does not appear to need any convincing to stick with the department.
“I love it,” he said. “I don’t think I would do anything else.”