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Fire District will remain intact

March 27, 2019
TILTON – The Annual Tilton-Northfield Fire District Meeting, which took place on Monday, March 18, began with an immediate request to move Article 13 to the floor in advance of all other articles on the 2019 warrant.

The article pertained to a petitioned request to terminate the existence of the Tilton-Northfield Fire District as of Dec. 31, 2021. It further instructed fire commissioners to pay any remaining debts of the district by that date, consult with the two towns about the disposition of all assets of the district, and distribute relative items between Tilton and Northfield in a manner that is "equitable and fair" according to each town's proportionate contribution to the district. Any assets that either town is unwilling to accept, the petition said, would be sold and the proceeds distributed accordingly.

Chuck Mitchell of Tilton made the motion to forward the article, stating, "I think that before voting on other articles tonight we would want to know the outcome of Article 13."

With the approval from approximately 100 residents who were in attendance, discussion began with Lisa Swancott of Northfield, who was in favor of the article. Swancott said the request to disband the district had nothing to do with the firefighters and EMTs, but instead was actually in support of them. She stated that it is her belief that the chief and others have failed to provide the fire district employees with a fiscally responsible fire station in which to work. Furthermore, she said that the towns of Tilton and Northfield have evolved into two different towns with different services and needs and thus the proposal to disband the district was brought forward by petitioners.

Matt Gilman of Tilton disagreed and made a plea for voters to keep the district intact. He said residents need to instead work together toward a solution to the fire station issue, where Center Street Station in Tilton is in perilous condition and Northfield's Park Street Station is inadequate in size.

"These two towns are intertwined. The solution is not to divide everything and break up, the solution is to get involved and tell us what you want to see for a fire station," Gilman said.

Others from both towns agreed with Gilman, with comments of, "Differences bring strength to this district," and "It would do more harm to the communities to split…We have great firemen and a great district. Let's keep it that way."

Another point that came up in the discussion was, should the district split, which of the two would respond to calls in Interstate 93.

Moderator Kent Finemore than called for the secret ballot vote on the article. Once all 123 votes were counted, one ballot was submitted blank and another was unclear in its intent but the article still failed by a tally of 21 people for termination of the district and 100 against.

Martin Lord Osman
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