Two families are mourning the loss of Ellsworth Deputy Fire Chief Bobby Dorr — the family he went home to and the family he worked beside. It was abundantly clear during Dorr’s cancer battle and final days that a firefighter never fights alone.
Dorr joined the Ellsworth Fire Department in 2009 as an on-call firefighter and was hired as a career firefighter the following year. He rose through the ranks and was most recently appointed deputy chief in January. For many years he was lead instructor of the Hancock County Fire Academy. Diagnosed with cancer in January of 2020, he was still going to work every day in the weeks before his death on May 5.
Firefighters are more likely to be diagnosed with and die of cancer than the average person. While it is unknown whether Dorr’s cancer was related to his work, he was committed to keeping other firefighters safe. His FireFIGHTer 204 (204 was Dorr’s call number) program raised enough money to furnish Hancock County fire departments with protective hoods.
Fire departments commonly have mutual aid agreements with neighboring towns to ensure sufficient manpower on a fire scene. Basically, if we have trouble, you show up. The same goes within the firefighting community when someone gets sick: If you’re in trouble, we all show up.
As Dorr underwent treatment, supporters wore 204 wristbands and T-shirts in solidarity. They walked in full turnout gear during the Relay for Life. Three days before his death, dozens of first responders and friends gathered for a procession by his home. The line of fire engines stretched far down the road.
Earlier this year, Dorr was named winner of the 2021 Captain Joel Barnes Community Service Award presented by the Mariners hockey team. In reflecting on the honor, he said he always hoped that at the end of his career he made a difference in at least one firefighter’s life. It’s clear he did that many times over.
In an announcement of Dorr’s passing, interim Fire Chief Gary Saunders echoed words often said after the death of a firefighter, “Rest easy, brother. We will take it from here.” We rest safer knowing they will.