Waterville Fire-Rescue
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Home > History > 1981-1990

History 1981-1990

1981
January 5:
A fire that apparently originated in a mattress late Monday night at 66 Drummond Avenue extensively damaged a second floor bedroom of a duplex home. Firefighters managed to contain the damage to the bedroom where the blaze originated. The occupant speculated that the fire probably started in the mattress, located next to a baseboard electric heater. Responding to the scene were Engines 1 & 4, Ladder 1, and Rescue. Captain Fred Brown said after investigation that the cause was apparently an overloaded extension cord. A radio, a tape cassette player, a record player, and a lamp were all plugged into the cord, which ignited clothing.

January 7: A major reorganization of the Waterville Fire Department was announced. The Western Avenue sub-station was immediately closed. The shutdown marks the third department facility to be closed in recent weeks, leaving the Central Station on Main Street as the sole firefighting operations base in the city. Meetings were held almost daily in an attempt to head off a threatened drop in insurance rating by the ISO. The agency informed the city in October that unless corrective measures were taken, the local rating would drop from 4-B to 5-C, meaning higher insurance bills for taxpayers. With the closing of sub-stations at Ticonic and Water Streets, the city is expected to save approximately $13,000 per year in reduced maintenance and overtime costs. Overhaul of operations included:
1) Housing three front line engines, one spare engine, a ladder truck, the rescue unit, and the airport crash truck in one location;
2) The presence of sufficient personnel to roll all pieces of equipment at all times on a moments notice;
3) An increase in the number of utility men from one to two-per-shift;
4) Consolidation of Engine companies 2 and 4 into a single Engine 2.

January 26: Cherry Hill Drive: A blaze that began with an explosion which ripped through the garage roof shortly after 6 p.m. drew many spectators to First Rangeway. Captain Fred Brown said that the explosion was apparently generated by one of the two cars in the garage. The force drove debris through an attic space and broke rafters in the living room tearing down the ceiling there. The garage was fully involved when trucks arrived at the scene. He ordered firefighters to concentrate water on the breezeway and house rather than the garage. Although the men did experience a brief delay when a hydrant failed to work, the water was available before the time the 1,250 gallons in the tank trucks was fully used.

January 28: The Departments Crash Unit is no longer responding to regularly scheduled flights at the Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport. The small truck, equipped with dry chemical foam tanks and other firefighting gear, will still be designated the airport crash unit, and will remain in readiness at the Central Fire Station would any mishaps occur. City Administrator Palmer said the FAA had agreed to do away with the required presence of the unit.

January 30: Frederick A. Brown is named Fire Chief. The Captain-in-charge that led the Department through a major reorganization that began in October of 1980, was named the city's first full time Fire Chief. City Administrator Robert W. Palmer, Jr. said of the appointment: Captain Brown has performed over and above the call of duty these past few weeks, particularly in working on the problems that have been confronting the fire department. Chief Brown has been a full time member of the Department since 1956. He served as a Captain since 1972. Previously, he served as a Lieutenant for four years, and as a driver for 12 years before that.

Picture of Chief Fred Brown

He said that one of his major goals would be to continue the upgrading of department procedures that began with the ISO report, particularly in the area of training.

January 30: 12:30 p.m.: 23 Brook Street: Faulty wiring is believed to have caused a fire that extensively damaged a home. No one was injured in the blaze according to Chief Fred Brown. The fire had been traced to an electrical circuit near the front of the house in the basement. The flames spread quickly through a floor grill onto the first floor, which was totally involved when firefighters arrived. Responding to the scene were Engines 1, 2, Ladder 1, Rescue and 25 firefighters.

March 11: 10:45 p.m.: Intense heat and a totally involved building greeted firefighters at the former Waterville Hardware Store on Main Street.

Picture of the Waterville Hardware Fire

The fire of undetermined origin gutted the structure. Although empty for two years, fire broke through a firewall and badly damaged six apartments in the adjoining building. It was believed the fire had been going for quite some time before it was discovered and was of suspicious origin. Chief Fred Brown said the fire began inside on the north wall of the vacant building. One of the problems in fighting the fire was that it had been very heavily boarded up in the rear making it difficult to vent. Also, the old structure with its tar and gravel roof, double ceilings, and many additions gave firefighters problems in getting the fire totally extinguished. Chief Brown said that during the long night, firefighters were fed coffee and donuts from the Salvation Army and Dunkin Donuts. The fire did about $50,000 in damage. The owner will remove the rear portions of the building, but the basic brick structure will be kept.
The first notice of the fire was received at the Waterville Area Communication Center when one of the tenants ran over to report it. Engines 1 and 3, Ladder 1 and Rescue responded to the scene along with police. Shortly after arrival, Winslow Fire Department ladder truck was called to the scene as well as a unit to stand-by at Central. Although there were no serious injuries, one firefighter suffered a minor shoulder injury and another, smoke inhalation.

March 12: Department gets an A: Mayor Paul R. LaVerdiere said it looks like the Fire Department is on the mark with its training efforts and other steps toward maintaining the city's Insurance Service Office rating.

March 27: 07:50 p.m.: An unoccupied home on the West River Road was extensively damaged by fire and smoke. Acting Fire Chief Steve McGraw, (filling in while Chief Brown is on vacation) said the fire appeared to have begun on an outside wall and spread up into the eaves. Upon arrival, firefighters were hampered by a pile of dirt, which had been dumped at the entrance of the home's driveway. With the dirt pile blocking the entrance, lines at first had to be laid from the road since tankers couldn't get through.
The house was left standing although the portion where the flames originated and the interior were nearly a total loss. Firefighters were busy at the scene for more than an hour with flames persistently breaking out at one point after another.
Engines 1, 2, Ladder 1, and Rescue responded.

Apri1 24: 09:15 p.m.: 72 College Avenue: A blaze swept through a vacant three-story house. Captain Donald Pooler said a passerby noticed and reported the fire. Engines 1, 2, 3, Ladder 1, and Rescue were dispatched to the scene. Flames had spread throughout the building upon arrival. While hampered by heavy smoke, firemen quickly brought the blaze under control. Damage was extensive. No injuries were reported.
State Fire Marshal's office confirmed, after investigation, the fire to have been set.

May 8: 03:33 a.m. A fire believed to have been deliberately set destroyed a Chaplin Street warehouse, the latest in a rash of suspected arson cases in recent weeks. The one story structure, used to store roofing materials, smoldered for more than two hours before the fire was discovered, according to Chief Fred Brown.
It started toward the rear of the building, a door in that section had been forced open by an intruder.
The flames spread quickly when firefighters first entered. Efforts were hampered by large amounts of tarpaper, and other volatile roofing materials. The estimated loss was $60,000.00. State Fire Inspectors were called to the scene to gather clues to the fire's origin.

Picture of Beck's Roofing Co. Fire

Approximately 50 firefighters were at the scene for more than two hours. All out was sounded at 6:55 p.m.

May 18: 01:09 a.m.: Engines 1, 3, Ladder 1, and Rescue responded to an unoccupied three story house at 10 Pearl Street. The early morning fire was the sixth suspicious fire in recent weeks. State Fire Investigators would be called to sift through the rubble one more time.
Shortly before their arrival, an explosion ripped through the wooden-framed structure, blowing out the windows and engulfing the entire house in flames. The severity of the fire, as well as the closeness of two adjoining houses, prompted Chief Brown to summon mutual aid from Winslow. Firefighters hurried to direct water onto neighbors' homes, as the vinyl siding melted. No further damage resulted. All-out was sounded at 02:54 a.m.
Chief Brown expressed gratitude to the local Salvation Army workers, who served hot coffee and donuts to the 35 firefighters at the scene.

May 20: The second fire in six weeks at an abandoned Veteran Court apartment house broke out shortly before 11 p.m. Firefighters contained the blaze within an hour. The incident became another in a series of suspicious fires which have hit the city since March 4. This fire apparently started in the cellar.
When trucks first arrived at the scene, the blaze was concentrated in the rear of the building and had begun working its way up to the third story. The blaze was brought under control before it seriously threatened neighboring houses. Crews were at the scene past midnight.

May 26: 10:23 p.m.: Arson was the cause of a fire which leveled a garage and seriously damaged an adjacent apartment building at 31 1/2 Water Street.
The blaze marked the 14th suspected arson since March 4. Chief Brown said investigators failed to find the cause of the fire. He said the fire was probably set in the middle of the garage. The garage was totally engulfed upon their arrival, with flames reaching as high as 150 feet into the air. Personnel stayed at the scene until after midnight.

May 28: State and local officials emerged from a two-hour conference at Central Fire offering rewards up to $1,000 for information on an arson spree that has plagued the city for three months. The money is being offered through the Maine Arson Information Program.

June 1: Another in a long string of deliberately set fires broke out in a Maingas warehouse on Chaplin Street about 9:00 p.m. Damage to the structure itself was not severe. Deputy State Fire Marshal Ronald Evans said that the Waterville Fire Department made one hell of a good stop... they did a super job. Evans said that there is no question the fire is connected to several others in the city since March 4. As many as 17 fires have been of suspicious origin.
Maingas and Appliances vice-president Norman Bushey said that the fire department had done an excellent job using salvage pads to cover much of the inventory to prevent damage. Flames had penetrated the original and newer walls as well as spreading under the false roof. All-out was sounded at 10:00 p.m.

June 18: A building at 24 Oakland Street was the latest target in a rash of arson related fires. Flames broke out in the vacant warehouse burning through the roof before being extinguished. It was the 17th suspicious fire.

June 19: Arson suspect questioned. A 19-year-old Winslow man was questioned in relation to a blaze, which swept through the old Narragansett warehouse on Allen Street. The warehouse fire was reported at 12:48 a.m.

June 29: Maxine Maheu becomes the city's first female firefighter. Last year, Maxine Maheu stood watching a group of firemen battle a Water Street blaze. Hey, I'd like to do that, she thought. Today she became the only woman on Waterville's Volunteer Fire Department force. She was assigned to Engine 3, under the leadership of Captain Roger Richards.
Any doubts about her ability proved unfounded. After the six-month trial period on the force, she was approved by the department and officers say, has proved an asset to her company. It's no fun getting up at 3 and 4 a.m. to fight a fire, she said. But no matter the time or circumstance, the crew is always on its toes.
It's a serious business... firefighting. So is sexual equality.

June 29: 06:09 p.m.: The latest in a string of deliberately set fires broke out in a six-apartment building on Green Street.
This was the first time that a deliberately set fire has broken out while several people were in the building. The blaze began on a third floor stairway leading to the roof. Fire damage was concentrated on the third floor. Captain Donald Pooler said it was necessary to vent the roof before crews were able to get inside. One of the problems at the scene was keeping flames away from a large apartment building, which nearly touched the burning building. Although the fire spread through a crawlspace, the quick response by 40 or more firefighters made it possible to knock down flames in about 45 minutes. All out was at 07:20 p.m.

July 3: Ex-convict arrested on arson charges. A man who lived in the building which was the most recent site of a suspicious fire has been arrested and charged with four counts of arson. Each charge of arson, a Class A crime, carries a penalty of up to 20 years in jail. His bail was set at $50,000.00.

August 20: A fire believed to have been set in two separate locations swept through a portion of the former Lockwood Mill.
Chief Fred Brown immediately sounded a second alarm summoning all local units and also called in an engine and ladder truck from Winslow. By 11:15 p.m., firemen appeared to have the blaze under control, although several speculated that they would be on the scene well into the night. The blaze was discovered by Police Officers Everett Flannery and Alan King before it could cause any appreciable damage.

September 8: A predawn blaze at the former Knights of Columbus Silver Street structure was believed to be the work of the same arsonist who has haunted the area since early spring.
The basement suffered the most fire damage, though the flames did reach a section of the second floor. The rest of the 14-room house suffered smoke and water damage. Responding firemen smashed the basement windows of the house to get to the blaze.

September 11: 01:45 p.m.: 28 Hillside Avenue: A four year old boy deliberately started a fire that burned up his toys and charred his room.
He and a couple of friends decided to light a match to a bunch of toys and crumpled paper. The fire quickly spread through the room, racing up a plywood closet door. Flames were reaching for the ceiling when firefighters arrived. Two engines and a ladder company responded. It took them about 20 minutes to extinguish the fire, confining it to the bedroom.

December 4: SUSPICIOUS BLAZE GUTS SCHOOLHOUSE. A suspected arson fire roared through the old Myrtle Street School, the 2Oth suspicious fire in the city since last March.
More than 60 firemen battled the two-alarm blaze in the unoccupied three-story red brick building at the end of Myrtle Street, in the city's North End. One fireman was injured slightly.
The first alarm was sounded at 9:08 p.m. When firefighters arrived, the inside already was red-hot and flames were pouring out of windows. The building had become a storage place for old used tires. The smell of burning rubber filled the night air. At 10:15 p.m. the fire broke through the roof, shooting flames 20 feet and more. That's when Chief Fred Brown sounded the second alarm.

1982
January 18:
The 21st case of arson did minor damage to The Chez. The two-alarm blaze was first reported at 06:45 a.m. consisting of three fires set in different areas of the building. Two fires were set outside the house and a third one was going in one of the doorways inside The Chez. Someone had also poured gasoline on the stairs leading up to apartments, but the fire had burned itself out.
Chief Brown blamed the bandwagon effect for the arsons that have plagued the city. No one was injured in the fire, which was under control by 8 a.m. and all-out by 10:17 a.m.
The second alarm was sounded at 07:02 a.m.

January 21: The State Fire Marshal's Office has completed its investigation of last year's arson spree; while this year's first city arson, at The Chez Tavern, has turned up a number of suspects, including a 16-year-old boy who fits the arsonist profile. The results would be handed over to the District Attorney within a week.

January 26: Roland L. LaCroix, a 13 year veteran with the department, was promote to a Captain's position left vacant for the past year.
Chief Fred Brown said Roland has been doing a super job as our fire prevention officer. I would have been glad with any of the candidates, but I'm especially please that he got it.

February 2: 04:00 p.m.: A late afternoon mattress fire in a room over The Chez left one man injured, just two weeks after the popular night spot was shut down for safety code violations.
The occupant was treated for smoke inhalation at the Osteopathic Hospital. It was speculated that the blaze was caused by a cigarette dropped on the mattress. A smoke alarm in a first floor stockroom alerted occupants of the adjacent lounge.
Engines 1, 3, Ladder 1, and Rescue responded to the blaze. The flames were confined to the immediate area of the mattress and box spring.

February 23: A 14-year-old boy was arrested on felony arson charges, less than two weeks after Police re-entered the probe of the city's nearly year-long arson epidemic.
The youth was charged with setting a fire in the Valley Distributors warehouse on Allen Street last June 19 and a subsequent blaze at a Sturtevant Street House November 10.

February 25: Police solve another case of arson. Another arson case was erased from the Fire Marshal's book when two young children from the South End of the City made their admissions to authorities.

March 5: 01:00 p.m.: 159 Water Street: No one was injured in a fire. Fast thinking neighbors rescued an elderly woman from her second-floor apartment. She had lived in the apartment for 23 years.
Firefighters were able to contain the third floor cause of the fire, burning clothes, but the rest of the building suffered varying degrees of smoke and water damage. The trucks were back at Central Fire by 02:30 p.m.
Chief Fred Brown said the fire was believed caused by boxes of clothes being placed next to an electric baseboard heater.

March 6: 16 John Avenue: Shortly before 11:05 a.m., City Councilman Allen Larsen lost an estimated $80,000.00 worth of property when his spacious garage burned to the ground. No one was home at the time the fire broke out. A mobile camper, and a 1981 Pontiac Bonneville were the two major items lost in the blaze.
A snow machine, a pool filtering system, two cords of wood, bicycles, a television and two air conditioners were also consumed by flames.
Firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading but heat did do some damage to the house. It was hypothesized that the fire originated in the camper. Engines 1, 3, Ladder 1, and Rescue responded.

March 18: 1 1/2 Healy Court: Another empty building burned, and fire officials say it looks like the first case of arson this year.
This one could of turned out to be the one we have been dreading: the one which costs lives. The building was gutted.
The building sets dangerously close to apartment houses and the Fire Chief compared it to a woodstove ready to set fire to the other families homes.
Firefighters used a Blitz Attack, to knock it down quickly.
Officer Jacques of the Police Department said: If they hadn't been able to set up as fast as they did, there could have been a serious problem. They did a hell of a job!
None of the other buildings were damaged.
The damaged house had been empty for quite some time, and this fire was the third one set in the same building. Last month one of those cases was solved when two young juveniles confessed.
Engines 1, 3, Ladder 1, Rescue, and 48 men responded. Central Fire coverage provided by Winslow Fire Department.

Apri1 12: Fire at 1 1/2 Healy court was accidental and the children would not be charged. Family guidance from police juvenile officer and from social workers would be provided for the youths.

May 6: The ex-convict that allegedly confessed to several arsons was ordered back to prison. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

May 21: Lightning struck the highest point in Waterville, sparking a fire in the Miller Library tower at Colby College.
The bolt apparently hit the tower at about 8:30 or 9:00 p.m. though the fire wasn't spotted until about 01:30 a.m. The fire was confined to an unused room on the second level above the clock, about 100 feet up. It caused about $2,000 damage, mainly by scorching walls and the floor. There was no structural damage.
Chief Fred Brown said his men had to climb scores of stairs, utilizing the building's standpipe system and lots of extinguishers to douse the blaze. Colby security also assisted in extinguishing the fire.

May 28: Judge Ronald D. Russell found a 14 year-old male guilty of arson in connection with the November 10, 1981, fire in a unoccupied Sturtevant Street house.
He received three years probation.

June 6: Firemen's Memorial Sunday. Fire Chief Fred Brown and Captain Peter Maroon unveil a memorial stone placed at the cemetery. The stone will replace the placards and flags that used to be placed at each firefighters grave.

June 6: 11:24 a.m.: A two-family house at 97 Cool Street was extensively damaged by a fire believed to have been caused by children playing with a lighter. The building did not have a smoke detector. The flames quickly engulfed the front of the house. 40 firefighters battled the blaze. Engines 1, 3, Ladder 1, & Rescue responded.
No major injuries were reported. According to Captain Roland LaCroix, the fire broke out on the first floor of the dwelling. Two young children apparently started the fire with a lighter in the living room. The flames quickly engulfed the front of the house.

June 22: Voice of the people: A man wrote to the Morning Sentinel: To Chief Fred Brown: In this day of trying to find a scapegoat and condemning our public servants, I would like to make my views public.
On the morning of May 22, I was faced with a near disaster in my home of two months when the creosote which I was heating reached its flash point and burst into flames, going out of control. In less than five minutes (only 300 seconds) after the alarm was phoned in, my front yard was swarmed with not only professional firefighters but also human beings who have respect for the property of others.
After their number one priority was most successfully completed, the Fire Department went a few steps beyond. They went about removing all the water from the floors after the fire was out and set up exhaust fans to remove the smoke. I don't think I could have opened the windows and removed the screens as carefully as did these men who were strangers to me. They also took the time to search the house which was thick as night with smoke for our pet who was thought to be in the house. My hat goes off to these real people.
Being a resident of this city for a short period of time, I can rest in comfort knowing we have a Fire and Rescue Department than cannot be equalled anywhere. Also, I wish to extend my sincere thanks to the Rescue Squad who made me realize that I was burned and very efficiently treated me.
After what the City of Waterville has shown this new resident, I would not want to leave it for anything.

July 7: 10:16 p.m.: A three alarm fire, believed to have been set by an arsonist, destroyed the former Waterville Fruit Co. on Sanger Avenue.

Picture of Fire on Sanger Avenue

The fire was raging out of control when the first units arrived. Houses in the vicinity of the burning building were evacuated.
Police from 6 jurisdictions were called to help control the hundreds of on-lookers. It was the 22nd arson to strike the city since 1981.
It was the third time they had tried to torch this one, according to Chief Fred Brown. Flames shot 75 feet in the air. Timbers were still smoldering the next day. Meanwhile, praise was heaped upon the 50-60 Firefighters that kept the blaze from spreading to a nearby oil storage yard.

September 11: Box 24: 01:19 hrs: 60 Silver Street, Apt. 3: Fire officials reported that a fire that claimed the life of a 61-year-old man apparently caused by his smoking in bed. Captain Roland LaCroix said the body was found in the doorway of his bedroom. There were no other injuries.
A tenant smelled the fire when he was awaken by sirens from an unrelated police call. The fire was brought under control within an hour, with the most extensive damage confined to the victims apartment. Captain Roland LaCroix said the fire originated inside the room itself, rather than the walls, it was relatively easy to extinguish on our part. All out sounded at 02:40 hrs.

September 21: Tribute: From the very start, Frederick G. (Freddie) Brown seemed destined to be a firefighter.
His grandfather, Charlie Brown, was the intrepid driver of the horse-drawn fire equipment that charged out of the South End's Engine 3 at the first clang of a bell.
For years, his father, Clifford Brown, was a faithful call man at the busy Water Street Station.
And two of his uncles, Eddie Brown and Pitou Brown, were volunteers on an Engine 3 roster that was second to none.
Frederick G. Brown became a Fire Department member at the age of 27. 26 years later, a new page in Fire Department history was written when he became Chief.
He was promoted from driver to Lieutenant in 1968, to Captain in 1972, and to Captain-In-Charge in 1980. The city's first full time Chief headed a force that included 22 full-time firefighters when it reached its full complement. And there are 60 on-call firefighters who stand by on an around the clock basis.
The tradition continues with sons Chris and Tony. Chris was a callman on Ladder 1, and Tony is a career driver at Central Fire Station.
One major change of recent years has seen the closing of sectional sub-stations, such as those on Western Avenue, Water Street, and Ticonic Street.

October 4: 9:34 a.m.: A fire which broke out in an upstairs apartment bedroom caused extensive damage to 5 King Street. No injuries were reported but the second floor was burned. Engines 1, 3, Ladder 1 and Rescue, along with over 30 firefighters responded to the blaze.

October 14: A faulty electric motor is being blamed for a two-alarm fire that destroyed Red Star Launderers and Cleaners on South Street. The blaze broke out shortly after 2 p.m. when owner Don Crocker was working on an electric motor attached to a flat wear ironer in the rear of the structure. Fire Chief Fred Brown ordered the second alarm 10 minutes after arriving at the scene.
The blaze was brought under control in about 45 minutes. Thick, black smoke rising from the building could be seen from all over the city.

1983
July 28:
2:46 a.m.: Residents of an apartment building at 18 Elm Street escaped without injury as fire gutted part of the building.
One man was plucked from a second-floor ledge by firefighters. The fire was under control in less than an hour. Captain Donald Pooler said it may have originated in an electric stove in a second-floor apartment.
Responding were Engines 1, 2, & 3, Ladder 1 and Rescue. Mutual aid at the scene from Winslow Fire and Fairfield Fire covered in at Central Fire.

August 17: Seven teen-agers were injured, two seriously, when the car they were traveling in slammed into a brick wall at Rich's Department Store at JFK Mall.
In the aftermath of the crash, several rescue and ambulance crews responded to the scene, treating the young victims as they lay in the parking lot.
Police say the 1976 Toyota Corona was traveling at a speed of approximately 50 miles per hour, did crush a parked Honda motorcycle, smashing it into the store wall.

October 13: 7:16 p.m.: 290 Upper Main Street: Two firefighters were injured while trying to vent the fire.
The house sustained extensive fire and water damage according to Fire Chief Fred Brown. The center of the house was gutted by fire. There's a hole from the first floor through to the second floor big enough to put a Volkswagen through. Smoke was pouring out from all the eaves and that red glow could be seen from the outside as fire crews arrived.

October 26: A Collette Street man escaped injury in a fire that damaged his garage. The man was pouring gasoline from one tank to another at about 9:30 a.m. when the fire broke out. He said: It started on the floor. I put my coat on it to douse it, but it didn't go out. I told my wife to call the Fire Department.
Responding within minutes were Engines 1, 3, Ladder 1 and Rescue. The fire was extinguished using a inch-and-a-half hose.
Fumes from the gas tank were apparently ignited by the flame in a Coleman kerosene space heater, which was running in the garage. An open garage door probably helped to fuel the fire.

November 1: A spectacular fire of undetermined origin destroyed a three-story apartment building at 31 Water Street. The structure also housed Cook's TV.
Occupants escaped unharmed. Some firefighters narrowly escaped serious injury when the ceiling of one of the third floor apartments caved in about them. One firefighter was reported knocked down. Firefighter Gary Craig was taken to Mid-Maine Medical Center for smoke inhalation, four others were treated at the scene.
After fighting the fire for over two hours and despite the efforts of about 40 firefighters who manned hoses and wielded axes to vent the structure, at 8:53 p.m. all were ordered out of the building. Smoke belched out of the building from all sides before it burst into flames, which could be seen for miles.
Firefighters were at the scene for seven hours and did not return to the station until 02:45 a.m.
Chief Brown said it was a difficult fire to fight because the smoke was so intense. Engines 1, 2, 3, Ladder 1, and Rescue were at the scene. Mutual aid from Winslow also responded.

December 20: 8:44 a.m.: A fire said to have started in electrical wiring forced a family from its 139 College Avenue house. As firefighters arrived at the scene to find smoke coming out of the eaves of the two-story structure.
Officials said a tire store employee, across the street, reported the blaze and alerted the occupants. The fire was confined to the second story of the building and the three occupants were able to get out of the house without injury.
Department officials said the fire started in wiring in the second floor ceiling.
Engine 1, 2, Ladder 1, and Rescue responded to the scene and remained there for more than 90 minutes, working in near sub-zero temperatures.

1984
January 10:
5:03 p.m.: 26 High Street: a fire that started near a woodstove chimney forced two families from their home. Responding to a report of a chimney fire, firefighters found that the fire had spread to the walls.
No injuries were reported. There had been a chimney fire earlier in the day, but the occupant had extinguished it himself. He then cleaned the furnace and chimney and turned it back on.
Fire officials said the fire apparently started in the chimney and then spread through the walls and attic. The house received water damage and some structural damage. The fire was extinguished at about 6:30 p.m.
Engines 2, 3, and Rescue responded to the scene.

March 4: 194 Water Street: 10:00 p.m.: Four people escaped when a fire broke out in the second-floor apartment. Engine 1, 2, Ladder 1, and Rescue responded.

Apri1 25: The space problem at Central Fire was created in 1980 when three substations were closed. Several thousand dollars was spent to reconstruct part of the floor.
Chief Brown said the five pieces of apparatus stored on the main floor weigh more than 65 tons.

June 3: Two veteran firefighters were named Captains.
Taking over the supervisory roles were Richard Muzerolle and Dana Rossignol. They join Captain Roland LaCroix as Captains of the three shifts.
Rossignol has worked at the department for 16 years, Muzerolle has been with the department for 12 years.

June 4: Three veteran firefighters whose combined careers spanned more than 80 years, retired from the department. Captain Donald Pooler's career started in 1950; Captain Jerome Boulette's career began in 1956; and Reny Martin joined in 1964.

June 5: 9 Elm Court: An electrical fire caused smoke to engulf a three story apartment building.
Chief Frederick Brown said the fire, which was reported shortly after 11 p.m., started in some wiring in an entrance way to the cellar. Five families with a total of seven children escaped injury. The structure was totally engulfed in smoke. The all-out was declared at 01:45 a.m. Firefighter Paul Rodrigue was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. He was treated and released.

July 14: The Department added three new faces to its roster during the month of July. Each of the three men is an experienced firefighter, having worked as a callman for a local fire department.
Joining the A-shift is Robert T. Shay Jr. He joined the Fire Department as a callman 4 1/2 years ago. He has state certification as a firefighter, levels 1 and 2, and certification as an Emergency Medical Technician. He currently serves as a utility person driving Ladder 1 and riding with Rescue.
New to B-shift is David P. LaFountain. He has been a callman on the Winslow Fire Department for five years and worked three years for the Vassalboro Public Works Department.
He is state certified as a Licensed Ambulance Attendant.
A Waterville native, Ronald F. Currie has joined the C-Shift after serving as a callman on the department for 11 years. He has an Associate degree in Fire Science.

July 28: 3:50 p.m.: A twin-engine jet carrying three passengers careened off the end of the runway at Robert Lafleur Airport, slamming into a construction site on Kennedy Memorial Drive. The co-pilot was seriously injured.
The pilot had tried to abort the take off when warning lights signaled some sort of malfunction. Firefighters manning the Department's airport crash truck arrived at the scene within minutes, and covered the jet's wings and fuel tanks with fire retardant foam.

August 7: Two firefighters have been named Rescue Technicians to fill vacancies on the Rescue Staff, William D. Chase, and Joseph R. Roy.
Chase has worked full-time on the Department for nine years, spending the last three and a half years as a utility firefighter. He is an advanced Emergency Medical Technician.
Roy has worked more than eight years as a full-time firefighter. He is a state licensed paramedic and moves to the technician position from the job of utility firefighter.

August 29: 35 Water Street: 00:55 a.m. a fire that raced through an apartment house may be the work of an arsonist (confirmed after investigation).

Fire at 35 Water Street

One tenant suffered two broken feet when he leaped from a second story window to escape the smoke and flames.
The blaze broke out in an unoccupied first floor apartment and raced through all three floors of the six unit building.
Flames were already coming from the building when firefighters arrived. Fire Chief Frederick Brown said that while still on his way to the fire, he heard a radio report that the building was completely involved, really totally involved.
Because the wood framed building is constructed without fire stops, the flames and smoke went right through, even in the back. Chief Brown said he gave the order for a condition blitz, usually used when a fire is too hot to allow firefighters to enter the building. As the fire burned, the building's aluminum siding melted. After cooling the building, firefighters were able to enter the structure.
Firefighters remained at the scene unti1 3:30 a.m.

October 8: Colby Students battle blazes too... Full-time students Joel Paine (Raymond, Maine), Brian James (North Haven, Conn.), and Jason Cleary (Medford, Mass.) work for the Department as call firefighters, responding to structural fires and major emergency situations. They carry beepers to alert them of an alarm.

November 26: K. V. Transit Bus accident at Post Office Square kept area rescue squads busy as nine people suffered head and face injuries when the bus struck a utility pole.
Transportation was provided by Delta Ambulance.
Picture of Kennebec Valley Transit Accident

1985
January 6:
07:00 a.m.: 27 Sturtevant Street: A fire broke out in a house. No injuries were reported. Captain Richard Muzerolle said there was substantial damage. Three fire units and an ambulance responded. Firefighters took about three hours to extinguish the fire.

February 17: Two men escaped with minor injuries after their single-engine plane missed the runway by about 50 feet while trying to land at Robert Lafleur Airport and crashed into a snow embankment. Pilot Goodine said: We were probably on the right approach, but when we lost power we lost altitude, and down we went. Firefighters arrived at the scene shortly after the crash and sprayed the spill with a fire-extinguishing foam, said Fire Captain Roland LaCroix. Two engines, the ladder truck and Rescue responded.

March 22: Eight Inspectors from the Department's Fire Prevention Bureau, began an intensive apartment-house inspection program. Inspectors checked on smoke detectors, second exits, and general fire hazards.

May 23: A page of Waterville's history closed when the fire department demolished the old Veterans of Foreign War building on Water Street. The department had been using the building as a training site for quite a while. The historic structure was demolished and burned as part of training.

July 13: Three fire units responded to a blaze at 34 Merryfield Avenue about 2:20 p.m. A Benton firefighter leaving JFK Mall noticed the burning garage. The main house had been vacant for about two weeks. The fire cause was unknown.

July 19: 9:50 a.m.: 6 Toward Street: A mother and her son escaped injury when their apartment caught fire, gutting it and causing moderate smoke damage to other apartments in the building.
Flames were jumping from the windows and thick smoke filled the neighborhood as firefighters arrived. Firefighters controlled the blaze, confining it to the first floor apartment. A youngster playing with a cigarette lighter started the fire, said Chief Fred Brown. The fire started in the corner bedroom. The mother tried to put the fire out, but it spread too quickly, and she hollered for help. Several neighbors called the fire department. There was no phone in the apartment.

August 12: The 10th Annual Maine State Fire Academy got under way this weekend as forty firefighters from around the state came to Waterville for a two-week training course at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. This was the first time the course was to be held in Waterville. 24 communities were involved. Firefighters were being trained and tested in areas such as structural fire attack, rescue, and salvage techniques, and fire inspection.

August 23: 02:45 a.m.: A pre-dawn blaze in a mobile home created an eery silhouette at the Countryside Trailer Park. Captain Richard Muzerolle labeled the fire suspicious. The 1981 Bench Mark mobile home was a total loss. It was insured.

August 31: 8:30 p.m.: Fire raged through Rummel's Ice Cream destroying the kitchen and damaging other parts of the business and an adjacent apartment. The building has been a landmark and institution at 170 Silver Street, since 1926.
The fire started as employees prepared to close for the day. A mechanical malfunction in a deep-fryer caused it to overheat and catch fire. The flames spread through the exhaust system and into the storage area overhead.

September 2: 8:30 p.m.: Fire heavily damaged College Avenue Motors destroying a car, a truck, and damaging the interior of the recently renovated building.
Firefighters were able to knock it down within 15 minutes. Captain Dana Rossignol said the fire started in the garage area and was contained in the garage itself. Department investigators were probing for the cause.

November 4: Arson suspected at Marden's warehouse fire.
00:56 a.m.: 1:14 a.m. second alarm: Flames illuminated a nighttime sky as a warehouse owned by Marden's Discount Store is consumed by flames. Charred timbers were all that remained of the 100 foot warehouse off Chaplin Street near Burger King. Captain Roland LaCroix said state investigators would arrive soon to begin their investigation.
Little or no merchandise was in the warehouse which actually stood at 251 Main Street. Waterville Police Officer Gary Moen noticed the smoke while on patrol. Winslow Fire provided coverage at Central, as 35 Waterville Firefighters fought the blaze.

December 14: A Waterville juvenile pleaded guilty to charges of armed robbery and theft of a firearm. He also pleaded guilty to arson charges involving a fire that destroyed a Marden's warehouse.

1986
January 2:
A Waterville city man faced two felony charges stemming from a fire in a rented room at the College Inn motel.
The fire, which was confined to a bed in room 12, threatened the 100 or so patrons in the nearby lounge area of the hotel. Police charged the man with first degree arson and aggravated assault. Units were dispatched to the motel at 10:33 p.m.

May 31: 10:03 a.m. ELM COURT FIRE LEAVES 6 FAMILIES HOMELESS, INVESTIGATORS RULE TODDLER PLAYING WITH LIGHTER CAUSED BLAZE. The three-story building was destroyed by fire. Two residents in the third-floor apartment when the fire broke out had minor burns, but no one else was injured. Captain Roland LaCroix said: One apartment was gutted out completely and the others were damaged with smoke and water. By the time firefighters arrived the third-floor front apartment was fully engulfed. Firefighters were able to contain the fire to that apartment. Investigators found smoke detectors in most of the apartments but not all were working. 18 residents had to be relocated.

June 5: An elderly woman died less than 24 hours after her rescue from her 43 Silver Street home where she breathed toxic fumes from a 40 year old refrigerator. The cause of death was an overwhelming infection of the blood.
A Muskie Center Meals on Wheels volunteer smelled gas and immediately called fire officials.

June 13: 1:43 p.m.: A fire extensively damaged a 19 Ash Street apartment building, but no one was hurt.
The fire apparently started in the rear of the second floor apartment. Captain Richard Muzerolle said the occupant was at work when the fire broke out.
Engines 1, 2, Ladder 1 and Rescue responded along with 29 firefighters. The fire had spread and it took 20 minutes to get the blaze under control.

July 12: 14:54 hours: A three-alarm fire, which police said was set by juveniles, swept through two building on Water Street, leaving dozens of residents homeless and most of their belongings destroyed. No one was injured.
Firefighters worked feverishly to keep flames from spreading beyond the two buildings at 109-113 Water Street. Their three-hour battle was hampered by thick smoke, strong winds, and over-curious spectators.
Three juveniles ages 4, 6, and 7, set the fire in the former South End Seafood Cafe. The youths touched off pieces of paper with a lighter, then fueled the fire with lighter fluid.
Captain Dana Rossignol confirmed that the fire was set intentionally.
The flames and smoke spread to a five-family apartment building.
Picture of Fire at 109 Water Street

September 3: A plan to find new homes for the city's police and fire departments was pondered by the City Council, with at least two councilors balking at a proposal to build a $2 million dollar public safety building.
An architectural study (at a cost of $20,000) recommended that the city construct new police and fire stations and renovate its Public Works Department facility.
Everything was put on hold (and still is).

September 30: Investigators Monday charged a College Avenue Motors owner with arson in connection with a fire at his used car dealership in September of 1985. He denied all charges. He was later temporarily cleared of all charges. All charges were dropped by the District Attorney in October.

October 6: Errol S. F. Gilman, former Assistant Fire Chief died after a long illness, he was 86.

November 12: The owner of a former Mister Donut Shop was officially notified that unless two fire-safety violations were not corrected by November 18, the business faced possible closure.
The notification followed a blaze at the shop on October 31, when a fire erupted in the area of a deep-fat fryer. Captain Roland LaCroix said the hood system over the fryer needed to be cleaned. The second violation centered on a flue pipe for a gas operated hot water heater located close to combustibles. The combustibles needed to be moved.
Five Dry Hydrants were installed to increase fire protection in the Trafton Road, Eight Rod Road, and Marston Road areas.

1987
April: 3 RIVERS LET LOOSE...
One river, the Kennebec, unleashed its power and turned our world upside down.
Picture of Kennebec River Flood of 1987
Homes were destroyed, washed away or left filled with mud and debris. Roads were smashed by the force of the torrent. Bridges were pounded by the rushing water and battered with debris.
For many, the flood of 1987 would be a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle to be witnessed, something to be etched in memory for ever.
The clean-up continued for weeks. The repairs went on for months. We had seen the power of the river. We had never seen anything like it... the force of the raging river, the shocking devastation.
In Waterville, lower Water Street had to be evacuated. The Warnaco (C.F. Hathaway) plant was flooded, it's parking lot was a wash. For two days, the flood paralyzed the region shutting down factories. Commuters followed detours through rural areas to skirt flooded bridges and traffic backed up as everyone had to see the river.
It wasn't until Friday that the sun came out and the waters began to recede. The extent of the damage hit home.
City officials, firefighters and police officers worked to coordinate evacuations, house displaced residents, and keep the curious from getting in the way.
Two radio dispatchers were on duty to handle calls that at one point were coming in at the rate of 320 per hour.
The city's Civil Defense Director, Fire Chief Fred G. Brown, was out of town at a course for hurricane emergencies, and Peter Maroon, executive director of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, took over the CD chores. Everybody backed up everybody else.

May 8: Captain Dana H. Rossignol was named the city's employee of the month for the month of May by Mayor Thomas J. Nale.

May 16: Gov. John R. McKernan, Jr. appointed Chief Frederick Brown to a statewide commission charged with planning the state's response to accidents involving hazardous materials.
General duties of the commission include designating emergency planning districts to implement emergency response plans; collect information about chemical spills; notify the public about potential hazards; participate in emergency drills; supervise and monitor hazardous material training programs.

May 19: A suspicious early morning blaze broke out at 8 Front Court. The tenants and residents in the area said they heard an explosion before the three-story, six-unit apartment house was engulfed in flames. All managed to escape the flames, but several suffered minor injuries jumping from a second story fire escape.

May 19: Firefighters attending a training school in the city were called away from classes to put their drills to use when a real fire broke out at 10 Campbell Street.
Thirty-three city firefighters, two engines, one ladder truck, and a rescue arrived at the scene after Central Fire Station received the call at 11:40 a.m.
The fire, which began in the kitchen, caused extensive damage to the house. The occupant was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom when the fire erupted, but escaped by descending a ladder raised to the window.
The fire was under control in 45 minutes.
Waterville Firefighters were among 275 firefighters from across the state, who came to the city's fourth annual Central Maine Fire Attack School.

May 19: 4:47 p.m.: Fire at a 4-unit apartment house on Summer Street was caused by a cigarette butt that had apparently not been fully extinguished and was thrown in a rubbish bag and stored in the closet.
About 30 firefighters took less than a half hour to bring the blaze under control. Two Engines, a Ladder truck and a rescue truck, left the scene around 06:30 p.m.

June 3: Chief Fred Brown finally got his wish. The City Council unanimously approved accepting a bid of $59,325 for a new rescue truck.

June 25: An estimated $100,000 damage to the A & J Sign Co. on Oak Street. The first call at 10:36 a.m. and, according to Captain Dana Rossignal, the blaze took four hours to extinguish. The fire started and was contained within the sign company's walls and did not spread to other businesses within the building. The fire came just one week before the sign company and Atwood Bros. Electric were scheduled to move to a new location.

June 30: 02:14 a.m.: Elm Plaza: Authorities labeled as suspicious an early-morning fire that damaged a discount store at Elm Plaza shopping center. It was the third suspicious fire in the last six weeks. Four units were called to the Super Saver Special Store for the blaze according to Captain Roland LaCroix. The fire started in a dumpster, which authorities believe was pushed against the building. The heat generated by the fire-ignited wood around the store's window and the fire spread to the inside. The fire activated the store's sprinkler system, which helped alleviate damage to adjacent stores. Captain LaCroix said firefighters spent a couple of hours extinguishing the fire, which caused considerable fire damage to the store.

July 30: 02:17 p.m.: 11 Oak Street: Firefighter Michael Michaud rescues a family dog, Jesse, from the flames and smoke of a fire at her home. The fire causes extensive damaged to the house. The fire, the second Oak Street fire in little more than a month, caused over $15,000 damage and left the owner and his family homeless. A neighbor who saw smoke coming from the house reported the fire. Captain Dana Rossignol said that by the time firefighters arrived on the scene the fire had been blazing for some time. The fire started in a rear bedroom of the house and spread into an upstairs bedroom.

September 14: A horse received a serious leg injury after it fell through the floor of a truck while it was being transported across the Waterville-Winslow bridge. Both of the horse's rear legs went through, and the right rear leg became wedge between the left rear double wheels of the truck.
Police and rescue personnel from Waterville started to remove the outside wheel, but decided to wait the arrival of a veterinarian when they noticed the wedged leg bleeding substantially. Dr. Scott Curtis put the horse under sedation while the leg was being treated. Emergency crews and bystanders began to lift the horse from the truck.

September 15: 07:15 p.m.: Three families were left homeless after a fire raged through a three-story apartment house at 2 Summer Street. There were no injuries. Four units and about 30 firefighters were called to the blaze. Captain Richard Muzerolle said: when they arrived, heavy smoke was pouring out the third story attic.
More than 100 spectators lined the residential streets around the building to watch. The blaze was under control at 08:03 p.m. and was extinguished by 9:17 p.m. Cause of the fire was faulty wiring.

1988
February 26:
Central Fire Station, the city's only active fire station, already crowded, is so in need of repairs it doesn't meet the Fire Department's own inspection standards, says Fire Chief Frederick G. Brown.
Chief Brown said it would cost at least $ 15,000 to start the work, plus about $120,000 more for other repairs and a four-bay garage to ease overcrowding at the 77-year-old facility. Two city fire inspectors found 21 safety-code violations, from missing occupancy limit signs to an unenclosed furnace and not enough fire exits.
Other problems were an inadequately enclosed generator, backed up sewer pipes, wall paneling that burns fast, un-inspected wiring, and low ceilings.

May 27: 26 Eastern Avenue: 8:55 p.m.: A single family home was extensively damaged when fire ripped through the entire structure and caused parts of the roof to cave in. Firefighters chopped at the roof with axes, jumping away as the flames billowed from the building. By 10 p.m. the flames had been contained.

June 16: 3 High Street 03:12 a.m.: The early morning blaze took 30 firefighters 20 minutes to control and forced four tenants to seek shelter with family members.
Lead fire investigator Robert Pelletier said: investigators couldn't find any accidental cause for the fire.
When firefighters responded to the blaze they found three porches and the rear of the building totally involved in flames, said Captain Dana Rossignol. With flames rising from the stairwell, firefighters had to rescue two females and a baby on the third floor by using an aerial ladder.
Investigator Pellitier said the fire originated in a place where it shouldn't have been...a first floor hallway.
Picture of Fire at 3 High Street

July 9: 39 Pleasant Street: 04:54 a.m.: Fire of suspicious origin destroyed much of a 90-year-old home while its owners were on extended leave from the city.
The fire, believed to have started in the back, quickly spread throughout the two-level home. And apparently began in multiple places in the house.
The fire was believed to have been started by burglars.
The raging fire also damaged the south wall of the garage attached to a neighbor's house. Thirty-three Firefighters battled the blaze for more than 90 minutes. Captain Roland LaCroix said temperature during the early morning blaze already had reached more than 70 degrees, which combined with staggering humidity, made efforts to extinguish the fire even more difficult. Four firefighters suffered heat exhaustion.

July 11: Mother Nature whips up a frenzy, heavy rain, lightning and hail, fire in the third floor of Mount St. Joseph Nursing Home. The mid 90-degree air temperature was being billed as the worst heat wave of the century. Wind-whipped hail climaxed a rock-em sock-em thunder and lightning storm in Central Maine, resulting in a series of weather related calls, the like never seen before. Sirens intermixed with crackles of lightning as fire & police crews shuffled form lightning strikes, to vehicle accidents, to street lights malfunctions, to power outages.

At 3:51 p.m. COMM Center dispatched fire crews to reported lightning strikes at Levine's, C.F. Hathaway, and Mount St. Joseph Nursing Home. The following is a series of dispatches:

3:30 p.m.: Car fire at 8 Silver Terrace.
3:51 p.m.: Lightning strike at Levine's.
3:51 p.m.: Alarm at Mount St. Joseph Nursing Home.
3:51 p.m.: Alarm at C.F. Hathaway, smell of smoke.
4:02 p.m.: Lightning strike at 32 College Avenue.
4:06 p.m.: Lightning strike at North Street Dairy Cone.
4:13 p.m.: Lightning strike at True Value Hardware.
4:16 p.m.: Lightning Strike at 10 112 Autumn Street.
4:36 p.m.: Lightning strike at 9 Harold Street.
4:42 p.m.: Reported Fire at Mount St. Joseph Nursing Home.
4:43 p.m.: Lightning strike at Steego Auto Parts.
4:45 p.m.: Lightning strike at Thayer Hospital.
4:55 p.m.: Winslow Ladder responds to Steego Auto Parts.
5:05 p.m.: Ladder 1 responds to Mount St. Joseph Nursing Home.
5:07 p.m.: Another Engine sent to Mount St. Joseph Nursing Home.
5:09 p.m.: Lightning Strike at 65 Summer Street.
5:18 p.m.: Winslow Rescue responds to Mount St. Joseph fire scene.

The major event was the fire that gutted a third floor wing of the Mount St. Joseph Nursing Home. The fire was confined to the wood-frame administration building. It burned through the eaves of the structure, engulfing half the roof before it was brought under control. Due to the other calls in the area, only about 30 firefighters from Waterville, Winslow, Fairfield, Oakland, Clinton, Sidney, and Belgrade were at the scene.
Heat exhaustion was the order of the day, as the temperatures were in the 90's. Evacuation of the building was done by nuns, relatives, neighbors, and firefighters as the building housed many elderly persons.
The fire poured brown smoke out of the eaves and spread across the underside of the roof. Venting was difficult because of a slate roof. An aggressive interior attack was commenced. By 5:00 p.m., the building was surrounded by equipment from area towns in order to keep the flames from spreading to adjacent buildings. It took about 1 1/2 hours to bring the smoky blaze under control.

1989 May 4: Frederick G. Brown, the Department's veteran Fire Chief, announced plans to retire in October or November, after almost 33 years as a city firefighter. He became Chief in 1981. He said he would continue as the local director of the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

July 13: 07:00 p.m.: The occupants of a single engine Beechcraft Bonanza airplane escaped injury when the plane slid off the runway shortly after landing.
Emergency vehicles, unsure of what had happened, raced to the airport, where fire crews spread foam on the plane because of leaking gasoline.
The plane's pilot told airport officials that he was not aware of runway work being done. The plane had two occupants arriving from Florida.

August 1: City gets emergency phone system for deaf. The new device is expected to change the way hearing-impaired people call for help. The TDD is a two-way communications device that allows the deaf to receive as well as send information.
Engine 3 Company donated the $445.00 device to Waterville Communications Center.

October 12: 03:05 p.m.: an apartment building fire at 46 Silver Street claimed the life of a man believed to be the owner and landlord of the building and a former city councilor. The blaze left the occupants of four other apartments homeless. Investigators from both the department and the State Fire Marshall's office were called to the scene to determine the cause. The fire started in a first-floor apartment. Fire and heat did extensive damage. About 35 firefighters and 10 policemen were at the scene.

December 14: 12:09 a.m.: Eleven people escaped a fire at Crestwood Apartments unhurt thanks to the efforts of a couple of tenants who ran from apartment to apartment, kicking on doors and screaming to wake residents. The fire department was on scene in about three-four minutes. Cold temps complicated the firefighting effort. According to Captain Richard J. Muzerolle, the four west- side apartments on the second and third floors were pretty much destroyed inside, but there was not too much structural damage to the building itself. The building contained 12 apartments.

1990
June 23:
A 34-year old Freeport man was hired as new Fire Chief. Chief Darrel G. Fournier, has been Chief of the Freeport Fire Department since 1983, will begin his new duties on July 30. Chief Fournier replaced Chief Frederick G. Brown who retired after 33 years of service to the city as a firefighter. Chief Brown had become the city's first full-time chief in 1981.
Both Mayor David E. Bernier and City Administrator John R. Chmura announced Chief Fournier's hiring.
Mayor Bernier said Chief Fournier was chosen from about 20 applicants. He is highly involved in the Fire Chief's Association and is educationally oriented. His enthusiasm, number of years of experience and the different kinds of programs he has promoted in the Freeport area that dovetail with what the city is trying to promote, according to Chmura.

August 11: A nightlong fire believed caused by electrical problems destroyed much of a three-story apartment building at Union Street. About 100 firefighters from Waterville, Winslow, Fairfield and Oakland battled the three-alarm blaze about 8:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. No residents were injured. Some firefighters were told that residents could smell something burning all day. The wood frame structure sustained major fire damage to its second floor, and its third floor and roof were destroyed. The entire building, which is some 100 yards from Central Fire Station, sustained serious smoke and water damage.
Hundreds of onlookers, most of who watched from lawns on Union Street, considered it an event worth videotaping, while a few others thought small parties were in order. After hours of investigation, Investigator David LaFountain categorized the blaze purely accidental. Originally, it was thought the fire began in a basement apartment in or near a 220-volt electrical outlet in the kitchen. It began in a concealed space between the levels, and was caused by either a faulty light fixture or the wiring to it. Embers fell down an opening that runs from basement to roof and started the fire behind an outlet in the apartment. The fire spread through the building by making its way through vertical openings in which pipes run. The hot weather, numerous power lines, and the closeness of other structures made it a very difficult fire to fight.
Picture of Fire on Union Street

August 13: Chief Darrel G. Fournier recaps his first two weeks on the job: The Department is on top of it, well educated - with regard to firefighting and rescue techniques.
The Department would be well served by designating a Deputy or Assistant Fire Chief. Even if the city continues to discuss but never builds a combined public safety building to house police, fire and rescue, the fire department will need more space for equipment and administrative functions.

Picture of Chief Darrel G. Fournier

In general, I like the idea of a public safety building.
The city does not need a public safety director.
Development in outlying areas and construction of the second bridge will basically cut the city in half. After it is completed, it will make it necessary for the city to at least consider the need for a second fire station.
The department will have to further develop its methods for checking and ensuring that businesses meet all fire and life safety.
Area municipalities are fortunate to have a rescue system in which the fire department's rescue unit and a private ambulance service, Delta, respond to most rescue calls. And in virtually all instances in which people must be taken to a hospital.

August 21: Chief Darrel G. Fournier promoted Veteran Firefighter Ronald F. Currie to the position of fulltime rescue technician.

October 23: Chief Darrel G. Fournier is switching the color the Department's trucks back to red and white. He is making the color change in conjunction with the city's purchase of a 1971 red and white pumper truck. The Chief plans to repaint the entire fleet as bodywork becomes necessary. He said he was making the color change because of tradition and because studies have shown that most people still associate red with fire engines.

October 27: "Change your clock, change your battery!" As part of a national program, the Department offered free replacement batteries for smoke detectors to single-family homeowners on selected streets. Department personnel went on about 20 streets door to door to contact residents and explain their offer.

1990 Career Firefighter of the Year: Joseph Roy.

1990 Call Firefighter of the Year: Michael Vashon.