SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Jack Martel has been deputy chief of the Southwest Harbor Fire Department since 1984. Soon, the shield on his helmet will read ‘Chief.’
Selectmen on Tuesday appointed Martel chief of the volunteer fire department. He replaces Sam Chisholm, whose resignation selectmen accepted prior to Martel’s appointment. Martel assumes his duties Jan. 1.
Both Martel and Chisholm joined the fire department in the late 1970s. Chisholm has been chief for about 20 years, Martel said.
Martel was the first choice of firefighters as a replacement for Chisholm. In a letter to selectmen, Jeff Thomas, the department’s chief engineer, wrote that firefighters unanimously gave their support to Martel as Chisholm’s successor during a Dec. 17 meeting.
“Everyone agrees that this would be a smooth transition,” Thomas wrote.
Chisholm, in his resignation letter, thanked residents and town officials for their support of the fire department, which, he said, is “one of the finest public safety agencies in the state.”
Selectman Dan Norwood made the motion to accept Chisholm’s resignation with “great thanks from the town for many years of dedicated service.”
Martel, in an interview earlier in the day, also praised Chisholm’s leadership.
“He got us up to being a top-notch department,” Martel said. Chisholm, he added, shepherded the fire department through a period that included construction of a new fire station, major upgrades in equipment and a marked increase in dedicated volunteers.
Selectmen on Tuesday also approved a new pickup truck for the fire department. The half-ton truck now in service cannot safely tow the department’s equipment trailer, and a crew-cab vehicle is needed to transport additional firefighters.
Martel presented selectmen with bids from four dealers, all but one just shy of $32,000. The board voted 4-0 to purchase a 2016 Dodge Ram 2500 from Darling’s in Ellsworth for $31,829.