Service Above All: Volunteer Fireman Stops Everything to Listen to Pager Calls for Other Towns

Boothbay Harbor — He may be a full-time carpenter, but Travis Farnham stops swinging his hammer when his pager goes off, no matter what town it’s for.

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“I leave it on so it picks up every tone for every department on the same dispatch,” Farnham says.

And when the pager goes off, work stops.

“No matter what,” Farnham said. “I don’t care if I’m halfway through a hammer swing, I freeze and make everyone else on the job site quiets down to hear what’s coming across the wire,” he said.

And it’s true. During our visit with Farnham, his pager sounded three times: once for a test page to Edgecomb, once for an alarm call at a seasonal house in Wiscasset, and once to announce a baked bean benefit supper for a retiring fire fighter in Boothbay, .

“I listen to them all. You never know when they’re going to need a hand,” he said.

Farnham has been a volunteer fireman for almost 20 years, and keeps his pager on to pick up every possible call at all times, but as of yet.

Should a neighboring town need assistance, the call would go out on the Boothbay Harbor channel, but Farnham doesn’t want to risk it.

“Could be they forget to call, and get in over their heads.” That’s why he never shuts it off or turns it to only pick up calls for his department.

“Day or night. Duty calls,” he said. “My first wife hated it, but she’s gone now, thank God. Only nice thing she ever did for me was leave,” he joked.

Farnham has battled many blazes over the years, but hasn’t yet heard a call in a neighboring town that wasn’t handled by its own department.

“It’s a brotherhood. Ask anyone from the other towns, they’ll tell you the same thing.”

One member of the Edgecomb fire department, who wished to remain unnamed, said “Farnham? That guy is a joke. He bought his own equipment for Chrissakes, just to keep in his truck. Do you know how expensive that stuff is?”

“He’s pretty excitable,” the source said.

When he’s not waiting for his pager to go off, Farnham trades stories and fire fighting memes on reddit.



2 thoughts on “Service Above All: Volunteer Fireman Stops Everything to Listen to Pager Calls for Other Towns”

  1. This is what made me proud of my husband and all his fellow volunteer firefighters—even when he had to leave on Thanksgiving just as we, the hosts, were ready to sit down for dinner. Today’s problem is getting new men and women to become volunteer firefighters.

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