FARMINGTON — Capt. John “Jack” Bell, 80, was remembered Monday for his dedication to the fire service, his eye for safety and his community involvement.

Bell, who died unexpectedly Saturday at his Farmington home, was a member of the Farmington Fire Rescue Department for nearly 50 years.
He worked his way to captain in 1978, Deputy Fire Chief Tim Hardy said Monday.

Bell also nurtured two sons into the public service business, Fire Chief Terry Bell and Capt. Mike Bell, who currently serve the department. He also inspired some of his children to enter plumbing trade and his business, Jack Bell Plumbing.

Jack Bell always made sure firefighters were safe and had equipment they needed before they entered a burning building, Hardy said.

“He was right there to guide us and mentor us and to make sure we were safe,” Hardy said. “He was a great mentor and made sure everything was going right.”

He described Bell as mild mannered and a man who never raised his voice.

“When he spoke you listened,” Hardy said. “He was a man with with a lot of respect in the Fire Department.”

Bell was still active in the department and went to the Tuesday night meeting and training session.

“Jack wasn’t just a firefighter and fire officer, he was a friend,” Hardy said. “He’ll be sadly missed. When you lose somebody with that amount of experience and knowledge, it not only affects the Fire Department, it affects the whole community. You don’t gain that type of experience and knowledge just overnight. It takes years and years of dedication.”

Deputy Chief S. Clyde Ross said during Bell’s years of service he helped with many aspects of firefighting.

“He was a very active participant. He was a delegate to the Maine Federation of Firefighters for a number of years and was very active in the meetings of the federation,” Ross said.

He was also very active in the Farmington Fire Rescue Department Benevolent Association and the Franklin County Fireman’s Association. He was a big supporter of the Benevolent Association’s Easter Egg Hunt and for years his company supplied girls and boys bikes to the winners, Ross said. In addition, he helped with the hunt itself.

Bell also supported the association’s activities at the Farmington Fair and did work on the food booth to make sure it had a sink and running water and other necessities. He was part of the team that raised money to provide scholarships to Mt. Blue High School graduating seniors and assisted Scout troops.

“One of the things I always respected Jack for was his dedication to firefighter safety and accountability,” Ross said. Bell not only observed the crew he was overseeing inside a building but also watched to make sure everybody outside was doing their jobs and were safe about it, Ross said.

“Firefighter safety was one of his concerns,” Ross said. “He encouraged young people to (get) firefighter education. He always maintained ‘the more training you have … the better firefighter you become.'”

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