2016-06-25 / Front Page

No extinguishing his community service

But after 58 years as a Newfield volunteer firefighter, Allen Moulton has retired
Senior Staff Writer

Allen Moulton, a volunteer with Newfield Fire Department for 58 years – 15 as the department’s elected chief – was recently honored by his peers and the wider community on his retirement. Allen Moulton, a volunteer with Newfield Fire Department for 58 years – 15 as the department’s elected chief – was recently honored by his peers and the wider community on his retirement. NEWFIELD — He has turned in his pager, and the scanner at his home is no longer set to the “on” position most of the time.

Allen Moulton has retired, after 58 years of volunteering at Newfield Fire Department. For 15 of those years – from 1972 through 1987 – he was the Fire Department’s elected chief.

When Moulton joined as a junior firefighter at 16 years old, in 1958, it was what young men did in Newfield.

“I figured it was a good thing to join,” he said Tuesday. “It was something to do” in the rural community tucked up near the New Hampshire border.

Moulton found “something to do” for the next 58 years.

The Newfield Fire Department was young at that time, established soon after the 1947 fire that swept though the town and many other parts of York County.

There wasn’t much equipment in those days – what they had was used before they got it, especially in the early years, and money was so tight that volunteers did repairs themselves.

Richard McGlincey, chief of Newfield Rescue Squad and a longtime Fire Department member, recalls well those early years. In fact, he said, the department still operates – for forestry operations only these days – a 1945 International former Army truck that was the town’s first fire truck, acquired after the 1947 blaze.

When Moulton was first elected chief in 1972, the Fire Department was a private, nonprofit corporation that received an annual stipend of $1,500 from the town. “We had to buy fuel for the furnace, we had to do fundraising, do all our own maintenance, you name it,” Moulton recalled. “If something broke down, we’d fix it. That was the type of thing we did back then.”

When he began as chief, the department had few resources – no helmets, no turnout gear, no radios – and no dispatch service. Residents were given cards with phone numbers to call if a fire broke out. Sirens would go off at either the Newfield station or the West Newfield station – there were two in those days – but of course someone would have to go to the station first, in order to sound the sirens, Moulton related.

Fire fighting was difficult.

“It was a bunch of guys together,” Moulton said. “You’d go to a structure fire – it’s a wonder no one was killed.”

Because they had no gear in those days, firefighters couldn’t enter burning buildings – instead, said Moulton, they used the “surround and drown” method.

“Back then we heard the siren and came and did what had to be done,” he said. “We didn’t have much to work with but everybody tried and put an effort into it. It was a grassroots type of thing.”

Two years after he was elected chief, the members got breathing apparatus that not everyone, even then, thought necessary; Moulton recalled some grumbling that the department had gotten along just fine without it for 20 years.

Then Moulton and other rural chiefs got together and formed a group to start a dispatch center. A federal grant funded training and the salary of dispatchers – one per shift originally, said McGlincey. The dispatch center was located in the basement of York County Court House in Alfred and eventually became York County Communications, which has since disbanded.

A stickler for training, Moulton and other fire chiefs in York County started what was then known as the York County Fire Attack School.

At about the same time as Moulton joined the department, his mother, Dr. Marion Moulton, was using the family station wagon to transport patients to the hospital. As soon as he got his license, Moulton became the driver so his mother could tend to her patients in the back. Later, the operator of a Limerick funeral home offered ambulance service, Moulton recalled. Eventually, it became apparent that Newfield needed an ambulance of its own, and with the help of Dr. Moulton, a used ambulance was purchased. The Newfield Rescue Squad was established in 1977.

These days, Moulton remains active in the family business – Moulton Lumber, which opened in 1882. Located on Route 11, it has a view of the Newfield Public Safety building – constructed in 1992 on land donated by the Moulton family.

That took a community effort. The department purchased a metal building kit and then built it. Department members contributed their time and expertise, as did many others in the community.

Moulton was honored for his long service to the community at a Fire Department dinner a week ago, followed by a community ice cream social.

There was a speech or two, and a sentiment - from the community - was read by McGlincey. It said: “We, this group, this town owe a deep debt of gratitude to this man for the years of dedication of his time, talent and resources to family, friends, neighbors and public service. … Words cannot express the appreciation for the selfless contributions he has made for the greater good of all.”

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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