Waterville Fire-Rescue
    Fire Prevention, Suppression, Inspections, Hazardous Materials and Emergency Medical Services

    Founded 1809 - Protecting The Greater Waterville Area For Over 200 Years
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Home > History > 1991-1995

History 1991-1995

1991
Picture of Steamer - No Date
Picture of Alex "Weasel" Loisel at one of the Firefighters Conventions with the old steamer.

January 16: 13 Sanger Avenue: A late-afternoon blaze caused extensive damage to a vacant home. The three-level home sustained damage in the rear from its cellar to the top floor. The 71-year-old structure was being renovated. After the flames were extinguished at about 5:05 p.m., Chief Darrel G. Fournier said that when firefighters arrived they found heavy fire in the cellar and on the first floor. The fire was first spotted by an employee at Spring Brook Ice & Fuel Co.

March 5: The Consolidated Firefighters of Waterville is formed. CFFW is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to develop common interest of, and promote comraderie and harmonious cooperation among the Firefighters of the City of Waterville.
It is made up of career, on-call, retired, or disabled firefighter. Monies raised help the many charities of the CFFW, and the restoration of Waterville's retired Engine 4.
The Consolidation is responsible for the book you are now reading.

August 6: New site sought for training. Nearby residents have been pushing officials to move the present facility, now located Heritage Park. Cut-up oil tanks, glass shards and a 30-foot tall tower are dangerous items in a public park.
Fire Chief Darrell Fournier commented: It's been a problem site for us; we would like to move too. Fire equipment has been vandalized and the park is reachable only via a narrow path from the Head of Falls. Chief Fournier would like to move the facility to land near the Municipal Airport.

October 5: 114 Water Street: 22:44 hours: A fire in Waterville's South End defied firefighters for several hours, threatening to spread to nearby homes. Not until the front wall of the three story building toppled into the street, were firefighters able to do more than keep the blaze at bay.

October 18: Five businesses sustained $850,000 damage. The fire started on the fourth floor of the Masonic Block on Common Street. Chief Fournier said the fire started a little after midnight in a wall behind some computer equipment. It then spread to adjoining walls and floors before setting off a fire alarm and activating three sprinkler heads, which helped to keep the fire under control. The sprinkler heads spread about 150 gallons of water per minute, and water seeped down through the floors and walls, damaging several businesses. But if it weren't for those sprinklers, the block might have been lost. Richard Kelso, chief executive officer of Mid-State Economic Development and one of those affected by the fire, praised the efforts of the Fire Department. He said: Thank God for the Waterville Fire Department, I didn't lose anything. They covered everything with tarps. I had some really important papers that couldn't have been duplicated.

November 19: 05:30 a.m.: Two people were found dead at an early morning suspicious blaze on Reservoir Street. Police did not discount the possibility that both victims were dead before the fire started, but stopped short of saying a murder had occurred. Picture of Fatal Fire on Reservoir Street

The fire ripped through the two-story home at 7 Reservoir Street, leaving two people burned beyond recognition. They were found on the first floor of the dwelling.
Chief Fournier said after dousing the fire and discovering two bodies at the rear of the home, he notified investigators from the Sate Fire Marshal's Office. A neighbor heard a big bang, saw all the windows blowout, and the entire house exploded in flames. One neighbor thought she had heard some shots.

December 30: McDonald's Fire on Kennedy Memorial Drive.
Picture of Fire at MacDonald's on Kennedy Memorial Drive

1991 Career Firefighter of the Year: Chris Libby.

1991 Call Firefighter of the Year: Louis King.

1992
Picture of Chemical Spill on Silver Street

May 20: 2:45 p.m.: second alarm 2:50 p.m.: 153 Water Street: A child playing with matches started a blaze that kept firefighters at bay for hours and ravaged an apartment building in the tightly packed South End of the City.
Picture of Fire on Water Street About 16 people escaped from the building without injury, but five families were left homeless. The fire erupted in a third-floor apartment at the rear of the building where a woman lived with her 4-year-old son. Officials determined the boy, who was playing with matches, started the blaze.
The fire quickly grew out of control and much of the rear corner was in flames when firefighters arrived. About 80 firefighters responded to the incident.

June 1: 2:20 p.m.: Chief Darrel Fournier said a working fire alarm system, a quick call to 911, and a rapid response by firefighters prevented a major conflagration at Park View Apartments.
A two-alarm fire damaged the apartment building and burned out one family. The fire originated in a skillet of hash browns. Grease apparently boiled over, was ignited by a burner that had been left on, and spilled fire onto the floor, where it quickly started to spread. No one was injured. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze in just over 30 minutes.

August: The city's codes office moved to Central Fire Station in order to better co-ordinate the needs of contractors and residents to obtain permits. The move also facilitates joint inspection of business's and tenement buildings. With the move, the code inspectors are to be overseen by the Assistant Fire Chief, to be hired soon.

August 28: 4:30 a.m.: An early morning blaze raged through the interior of Wadsworth Gymnasium, destroying or damaging 25,000 square feet of office and recreational space on the Colby Campus.
Chief Darrel G. Fournier speculated that much of the destruction could have been prevented had the building been equipped with a sprinkler system. A Colby spokesperson said the gymnasium is probably the last building on campus that didn't have a sprinkler system. Systems had been installed in other buildings and at some point would have been installed in the gymnasium. But it was a low priority compared to residence halls and classrooms.
The fire started in the bleacher area of the gymnasium that is located in the college's 93,000 square-foot field house. It damaged the free weight room and five squash courts, as well as the overhanging press box, and three coaches' offices. The basketball court located inside the building was not fire-damaged, but thousands of gallons of water were poured on the newly refinished floor, and the wooden gym floor was struck by burning debris.
Firefighters finally contained the fire shortly after 11 a.m.
Picture of Fire at Colby College Alfond Arena

September: The Department institutes the first firefighters, rookie school. This school trains all new call firefighter recruits in firefighting skills. An intense 115-hour program is adopted by the Central Maine Fire Attack School, and is expanded to include participants from across the state. The program proved to be very successful for the region.

November 2: Bruce Hensler is chosen to be the city's first full time Assistant Fire Chief. Bruce came to the Department from the Rockport Area, and is well versed in Code's Enforcement.

1992 Career Firefighter of the Year: Ronald Currie.

1992 Call Firefighter of the Year: Michael Folsom.

1993
May 26:
An 8000-gallon Kerosene spill causes minimal damage. State and local workers contained the spill that made its way into the Messalonskee Stream when the valve on a 20000-gallon metal oil tank broke at a local oil company.
The kerosene made its way into the stream through an old storm drain that emptied out on Western Avenue. The slick was contained in an area from Western Avenue to the area behind the Maine Criminal Justice Academy on Silver Street.
Captain Dana Rossignol said: I can say that there isn't any danger, if somebody builds a bonfire on top of it, it's going to catch on fire, but you don't have to worry about combustion.
Crews from Clean Harbors, an environmental clean-up company from Portland, stretched booms of an absorbent material across Messalonskee Stream to soak up the floating kerosene.
Picture of Fuel Spill on Sanger Avenue

August 29: 11:13 a.m.: 44 Western Avenue: Two Police Officers and a Firefighter carried a woman from a third-floor apartment moments before fire engines arrived and extinguished a small fire in her apartment.
Firefighters contained the fire to a small area and put it out within minutes. Captain Richard Muzerolle said the fire caused about $200 damage and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

September: The Department's Color Guard Unit recently won first place in a color guard competition at the Maine State Federation of Firefighters Convention in Madawaska. In order to do so, they had to show more polish, discipline, and precision than any of other 15 units that entered in the military-style competition. The men volunteer to represent Waterville and are not paid for their time.

Picture of 1993 Award Winning Color Guard
Front L-R: Robert Shay, Steven Marquis. Standing L-R: Carl Coombs, Roland LaCroix, Fred (Butch) Berard, and Louis King.

October 7: The Department is having trouble getting a message through to the young people in the community.
Fire Chief Darrel Fournier said there have been 18 cases in the past 4 months of juveniles setting fires. That's a significant increase and a flag that tells us there is a problem in our community. Historically in Waterville, juveniles have started 70 percent of the set fires, he said.
The Chief said he is worried that someone will be killed in a fire set by juveniles. For three years, department representatives have tried unsuccessfully to sell school officials on weaving the entire curriculum of Learn not to burn into the school's regular program. Firefighters have taken advantage of teaching opportunities offered during fire prevention week but that is not enough, Chief Fournier said. He estimates the program would take about four hours to teach per year.
A side benefit of the program is that children teach their parents what they learned in school. The program is used nationwide, and the materials needed have already been purchased by the Pine Tree Burn Foundation.
Chief Fournier stated: Youths are naturally curious about fire but they need to be taught at an early age about fire safety and need to learn that playing with fire is not an acceptable behavior in society.

December 21: Assistant Fire Chief Bruce Hensler, who also is the city's code enforcement director, announced that he would be resigning soon to accept the position as Chief of the Camden Fire Department.

1993 Career Firefighter of the Year: Tony Brown.
Tony drives Engine three, is a fire investigator, a fire inspector, and heads the department's fire prevention efforts in the local schools. He was instrumental in the construction of a mobile smoke trailer. It is used to train school children in fire safety. Tony is not afraid to take on extra duties and help others.

1993 Call Firefighter of the Year: Neil Avcollie.
Neil is a member of Engine Company two and is a Hazardous Materials Technician. He was chosen because he gets the job done and follows orders.

1994
January:
The first regional hazardous response team was established. This team is a public/private partnership coordinated through the Waterville Fire Department and Chinet Company. The Kennebec Valley hazardous Materials Response Team responds to releases of hazardous materials in the communities of Waterville, Winslow, Oakland, Fairfield, Sidney, and Augusta. Membership of the private sector includes: Chinet Company, S.D. Warren-Somerset, Scott Paper-Winslow, Colby College, West Lynn Creamery, Kennebec Sanitary Treatment District, Maine Central Railroad, Cascade Woolen Mill, Augusta Water & Sanitary District, Maine Mid-Maine Medical Center.
Equipment is housed in a 24' trailer at the Chinet Company. Waterville firefighters are trained at Operations, Technician and Command levels. These firefighters, along with Chinet personnel, staff the trailer and Command Unit during emergency response.
This team serves as a model for response teams in Maine and New England, and is a vital program to the citizens of the Greater Waterville Area.

March 15: Raymond Poulin was chosen from 20 applicants to become the Department's Assistant Fire Chief.
Ray has worked at the Department for 17 years as a career firefighter and put in three years as a call firefighter.
A job search through Maine and New England generated 20 applicants for the job. The field was narrowed to four candidates, and Ray was chosen.
Picture of Assistan Fire Chief Raymond Poulin

His duties include: supervising the city's two code enforcement officers, and eight fire inspectors. He is also second in command of the entire Fire Department. He works closely with Chief Fournier, Fire Investigators, and the Training Officer.
Assistant Chief Poulin is a Waterville native and the son of Bernard Poulin who served in the Department from 1930-1951 and was a Lieutenant on Engine Company One. He grew up on College Avenue just down the road from Central Fire Station and says he could hear the fire whistle and the sounds of the engines whenever there was a fire call.

May: Chief Darrel Fournier was elected President of the New England Division of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. As President, he represents the New England States of the IAFC headquarters in Washington, DC. His one-year term will conclude in May 1995, with a three-day convention held at the Sheraton in South Portland.

June 4: Box 533: 21:00 hours: Two Alarms: 123 Water Street. 37 Firefighters, one Aerial, two Engines, one Rescue, battled the blaze for 4 1/2 hours.
A two story wood structure, ordinary construction was vacant and was unsecured. Assistant Chief Raymond Poulin advised that he had been at the house with the owner and that the fuses had been removed. It is believed that someone entered the front door and started a fire in the area of the first floor and second floor stairway. The estimated loss is $29,700. Station coverage was provided by Fairfield Fire. There was one minor injury. A live power line that had burned off the building was lying in the roadway in front of the structure and caused some minor adjustments to the initial attack. All units were back in service at 01:30 a.m. the next day.
Picture of Fire at 125 Water Street

September: The Department receives a training grant from Maine Technical College system. Funding from this grant is used to construct a three-story ladder tower on city land at the airport. Captain Dana Rossignol coordinated the construction and design of the tower.
The tower is used by Central Maine Fire Attack School and area fire departments to increase firefighters' skill levels.

October 10: 01:39 a.m. Five Engines, one Rescue, two Aerials. FIRE RAVAGES RAILROAD SQUARE CINEMA. A three-alarm fire gutted the Cinema believed to have originated in the kitchen area of the cafe. The section of the building, occupied by Waterville Family Practice doctors complex, sustained heavy water and smoke damage.
Fire officials said the fire was not an easy one to bring under control. It was a very difficult fire, because they had constructed a second roof at some point, which created a void area. We could not get at the fire with one roof underneath and one on top. It was very difficult to keep it from spreading according to Chief Fournier. He estimated the loss at between $450,000 to $500,000, not including the contents. The tax maps placed the value of the building at $900,000.
The fire was very smoky. It burned for some time before it broke through. Witnesses said the flames were not visible for quite a while, and then fire just erupted above the cooking area and in the eaves.
The entire contents of the cinema were lost in the fire, including the projection equipment. The fire also destroyed the equipment and supplies of Railroad Square Cafe. 73 firefighters from Waterville, Winslow, Fairfield and Oakland battled the blaze.
The alarm was reported to Comm Center by a passing firefighter from Belgrade.
The fire was confined to the building. The American Red Cross Disaster Services provided support. The building was not sprinkled. The fire was under control at 03:12 a.m.

October 13: Box 533: 17:01 hours: Single Alarm: two Engines, one Rescue, one Aerial, 37 Firefighters. Structure fire at 18 Mathews Avenue. Two-story private home.
The fire was reported via 911 and was confined to entryway and kitchen areas. There were multiple types of combustible materials. The ignition factor was discarded smoking materials.
The building was not sprinkled. The fire was under control at 17:14, the all clear was at 17:16. Damage to the property estimated at $40,960.
The Incident Commander was Chief Fournier. Units back in service at 19:26.

THE YEAR IN REVIEW:
208 False Alarms
173 Vehicle/Accident
48 Electric/Gas
41 Structure Fires
32 Vehicle Fires
30 Trees/Grass
18 Assistance Calls
11 Mutual Aid Calls
3 Haz-Mat incidents
1440 Rescue Calls

1994 Career Firefighter of the Year: Mr. Philip Simonds.
He joined the Department in 1982. Holds an Associates Degree in Fire Science, and is continuously taking additional fire related courses and seminars, including those at the Firehouse Exposition, in Baltimore, MD. He is State Certified Firefighter I and II, State Certified Fire Instructor I, and Field Certified for repair of Scott Breathing Apparatus. He is 42 years old. Phil is a doer, not a looker.

1994 Call Firefighter of the Year: Captain Frederick Berard Jr.
He joined the call force in May of 1968. He was promoted to Lieutenant in May of 1984, and Captain of Engine Co. 1 in January of 1985. He is a Certified City of Waterville Firefighter and has taken numerous courses at the National Fire Academy in Maryland. He is Treasurer of the Central Maine Fire Attack School, and a member of the Consolidated Firefighters of Waterville, as well as a member of the Departments Award Winning Color Guard. Captain Berard is 47 years old. His selection by Chief Fournier was due to his Can Do Attitude and unselfish dedication.

1995
April:
The City invests in computer-aided dispatch in a public safety software program for Fire, EMS, Police, and 911 Communications Center.

May 4: Box 522: 17:57 hours: second and third alarms 17:59 hours: 362 Main Street, Auto Dealership. Building loss estimated at $600,000. No injuries or deaths, 20-25 employees affected. Six Engines, Two Ladders, Two Rescues, and two Ambulances responded. Mutual aid provided by Winslow, Oakland, Fairfield, and Vassalboro Fire Departments. The Fire was extinguished. WFD Lead Investigator Steve Marquis, State Electrical Investigator William Macomber, and State Fire Marshall Kenneth Quirion concluded probable cause to be a faulty light ballast.
The blaze started just before 18:00 hours and apparently appeared first in the midsection of the building. Within minutes, it was engulfed in flames and the showroom filled with smoke. This was a tough one to fight because of the ever-present danger of explosion.
Loss to the dealership was mostly building and equipment, with very few automobiles were damaged. The fire apparently started in the Service or Parts area.

August 15: RESCUE SQUAD: A teen-ager fell 25 feet from a cliff area known locally as Devil's Chair. The area is located in a wooded area near Upper Main Street and Interstate 95. It is a tough area to get to and is a hangout for area youths.
High Angle Rescue Specialist Jeff Brazier (the teams leader) and Ron Currie arrived at the scene around 1:00 p.m.
The teen-ager had landed on some sharp rocks. A rain shower had made the area treacherous. After evaluating the situation, Jeff Brazier descended and Ron Currie remained at the top to coordinate other squad members as they arrived.
A basket-like stretcher and rescue equipment was lowered. After stabilizing the teen, he was placed into the stretcher and lowered another 25 feet. He was then transported by a Parks and Recreation truck about a mile from the bottom of the cliff through the woods to a waiting Delta Ambulance.
The teen suffered a fractured arm as well as head and facial injuries. He remained conscious and talked to rescuers throughout the rescue. Brazier said: It was a multi-organizational rescue effort that went quite well.
Team Leader Jeff Brazier teaches High-Angle Rescue courses throughout Central Maine.

August 31: Governor Angus King Executive Proclamation Banning Out-Of-Doors Fires to minimize risk of Forest Fires.
WHEREAS, a prolonged summer season of unusually dry weather has created a high degree of forest fire danger in all parts of the State of Maine, thereby creating a threat to public health, safety and welfare; and
WHEREAS, nearly ninety percent of all forest fires in Maine are caused by human activity and are preventable, and WHEREAS, out-of-door fires are likely to pose a significant forest fire threat in light of the dangerously dry condition of Maine's forest; and
WHEREAS, the Maine Forest Service, municipal fire departments and landowners need the support of every Maine resident and visitor to prevent forest fire;
NOW, THEREFORE, I Angus S. King Jr., Governor of the State of Maine due hereby proclaim pursuant to the authority granted in 12 MRSA 9001, that there shall be a statewide ban on out-of-door fires as described below, effective commencing September 1, 1995 and continuing until repeal by subsequent Executive Proclamation.

1. Out-of-Door Fires
For the purpose of this proclamation, out-of-door fires shall be defined as the burning of any kindled solid or liquid fuel, including, but not limited to, the burning of any woody material, household trash, debris or other combustible material where the flaming or glowing material is exposed to the ambient air.

2. Exceptions
The following types of out-of-door fires are exempted from this Executive Proclamation and the statewide ban:
a. Use of liquid or gas fired grills for the purpose of cooking food.
b. Use of charcoal grills for the purpose of cooking food on residential property only.
c. Out-of-door fires at public campsites maintained by the Department of Conservation, Baxter State Park and the Department of Transportation, so long as those campsites have received an on-site inspection and approval from the Maine Forest Service.
d. Out-of-door fires at commercially operated campsites that have received an on-site inspection and approval from the Maine Forest Service.
e. Out-of-door fires tended by any eating establishment, camping area or similar establishment licensed under 22 MRSA 2492 by the Department of Human Services as long as those commercial operations have received an on-site inspection by the Maine Forest Service.
f. Public Events that are permitted by the Maine Forest Service or Town Forest Fire Warden.
g. Out-of-door fires that are necessary for the protection of public health, safety and welfare and have been approved by the Maine Forest Service or Town Forest Fire Warden.

3. Penalty
As provided in 12 MRSA, 9004, any person who violates the provisions of this proclamation shall be guilty of a Class B crime.

September 1: The Department placed copies of Plan to get out Alive, a video that helps families plan escape routes in case of fire, in local Video Stores. The Video can be rented Free of Charge for a three-Day period.

Picture of Rescue 1
Picture of Engine 1
Picture of Engine 2
Picture of Engine 3
Picture of Ladder 1

Picture of Career Firefighters - 1995

Picture of Call Firefighters - Ladder 1 & Engine 1 - 1995

Picture of Call Firefighters - Engine 2 & Engine 3 - 1995


We hope you enjoyed the History of Our Fire Department and Thank You for supporting the many projects of the Consolidated Firefighters of Waterville.

Your generosity is greatly appreciated!