While the flag-draped casket carrying the body of retired Rumford fire Chief Joseph Eugene Boivin sits atop the department’s former 1952 American LaFrance Engine No. 1, light snow falls late Wednesday morning as Boivin’s son Chris, left, and Rumford Deputy Chief Richard Coulombe take Boivin’s turnout gear from the truck to Chief Robert Chase during a memorial ceremony in front of the fire station on Congress Street. Standing at attention beside the engine are pallbearers and Rumford firefighters J. Arthur Boivin, left, Eugene’s brother and also a retired chief; former Pvt. Donald Coulombe; retired Pvt. Robert Bradley Sr. and his brother, retired Lt. Albert Bradley; retired Deputy Chief Mark Mayo; Deputy Chief Chris Bryant; retired Deputy Chief Peter Chase; and retired call force Senior Capt. Ivan Arsenault. Eugene Boivin died Saturday after a yearlong battle against cancer.

RUMFORD — Black bunting draped above the fire station’s three bay doors Wednesday morning heralded the mourning of retired chief Joseph Eugene Boivin who died Saturday.

Several of the more than 50 firefighters from across Maine who attended the funeral service at Parish of the Holy Savior Church participated in the department’s service, during which Boivin’s turnout gear was retired.

A bell on the firetruck bearing Boivin’s casket was solemnly tolled three times to mark his passing.

“It was very moving when they retired his hitch gear, and I thought the family was very pleased with (the ceremony),” Town Manager Carlo Puiia said. “And I think Gene would have been very pleased with the event.”

Boivin, 70, died Jan. 30 after a year-long battle with cancer. His Rumford firefighting career spanned more than three decades.

“It was a very fitting service for someone who not only served the Fire Department, but also the school board and the Board of Selectmen. That’s pretty notable,” Puiia said.

As light snow fell and the sun broke through clouds, illuminating the Congress Street station, firefighters stood in V-formation from the center bay door at about 11 a.m. That’s when the department’s former Engine No. 1 — a 1952 American LaFrance — arrived.

Bought in 1961, the engine on which Eugene Boivin served is owned by retired call-force member Felix Ricci.

Following a police escort from the S.G. Thibault Funeral Home on Penobscot Street, the engine, driven by Boivin’s brother, retired Rumford fire Chief J. Arthur Boivin, carried his brother’s body in a flag-draped casket and his gear to the station.

Eugene Boivin’s son Chris rode beside his uncle as additional pall-bearing firefighters walked beside the firetruck. Behind them drove family, relatives and friends. They double-parked on the street, got out and ringed saluting firefighters standing at attention.

Nine current, retired or former firefighters stood beside the engine, facing the station.

Deputy Chief Richard Coulombe and Chris Boivin then carried Eugene Boivin’s gear from the engine to Chief Chase.

Reading from a statement, Chase explained the department’s Ringing of the Last Alarm ceremony to mark Boivin’s passing.

In the past as firefighters began their tour of duty, he said a bell was rung to signal the start of the day’s shift.

“Throughout the day and night, each alarm was sounded by a bell, which summoned these brave souls to fight fires and to place their lives in jeopardy for the good of their fellow citizens,” Chase said.

When the fire was extinguished and the alarm ended, the bell signaled completion of the call.

He said that when a firefighter died in the line of duty — paying the supreme sacrifice — it was the mournful toll of the bell that announced a comrade’s passing.

“We utilize these traditions as symbols, which reflect honor and respect on those who have given so much and who have served so well,” Chase said.

“To symbolize the devotion that these brave souls had for their duty, a special signal of three rings three times each represents the end of our comrades’ duties, and that they will be returning to quarters,” he said.

“And so, to those who have selflessly given their lives for the good of their fellow man, their tasks completed, their duties well-done, to our comrades — their last alarm — they are going home.”

The chief’s father, retired deputy chief Peter Chase, then slowly tolled the truck’s bell three times.

The pall-bearing firefighters then resumed their positions with the engine, which Arthur Boivin slowly drove down Congress Street, while firefighters left behind saluted as the procession headed to the church for the funeral service.

After that, area firetrucks and firefighters joined the procession, taking Eugene Boivin’s body to St. John Cemetery on Isthmus Road.

“I was really pleased with the effort the department put in on their free time,” Puiia said. “A lot of time was donated by these men, and they really made it a memorable memorial.”

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As light snow fell on Wednesday morning in front of the Rumford Fire Station during the department’s memorial ceremony for retired Chief Joseph Eugene Boivin, Chief Robert Chase reaches down to pick up Boivin’s turnout gear to carry it into the station as Boivin’s flag-draped casket was escorted down Congress Street. The casket was carried atop Engine No. 1, a 1952 American LaFrance firetruck. Boivin’s son Chris and Deputy Chief Richard Coulombe took Boivin’s gear from the back of the engine and placed it at Chase’s feet prior to the Ringing of the Last Bell ceremony.

Retired Rumford fire Chief J. Arthur Boivin drives the department’s former 1952 American LaFrance Engine No. 1 bearing the flag-draped casket of his brother, retired Rumford fire Chief Joseph Eugene Boivin, down upper Congress Street to the station for Wednesday morning’s memorial service. Seated beside him is Eugene Boivin’s son, Chris. Additional pallbearers walking with the engine, are Deputy Chief Chris Bryant in back, and retired Deputy Chiefs Peter Chase, left, and Mark Mayo. Not shown is former Pvt. Donald Coulombe.

During Wednesday morning’s Rumford Fire Department memorial service for retired Chief Joseph Eugene Boivin, Lt. Keith Bickford, far left, Chief Robert Chase, and Deputy Chief Ben Byam are joined in saluting the arrival of Boivin’s casket by Rumford and Mexico firefighters at right. In the front row are Bennie Bradley, Lt. Robert Dixon, Mexico Assistant Chiefs Richie Jones and Ray Broomhall, Rumford call force safety officer Louis Giroux, and Rumford Pvt. Jeff Harren. In back, from right, are Mexico driver/operator Mike Chartier, Rumford Lt. Sylvanus “Butch” Glover and Jason Jolin.

Rumford fire Lt. Keith Bickford, left, and Deputy Chief Ben Byam listen as Chief Robert Chase, center, explains the meaning behind the department’s bell rings during Wednesday morning’s Ringing of the Last Alarm ceremony at the department’s memorial service for retired Chief Joseph Eugene Boivin. Boivin’s turnout gear is in front of Chase on the ground and behind him on the firetruck bumper.

Rumford and Mexico firefighters at left and center are joined at far right by area firefighters and firefighters from around the state during Wednesday morning’s memorial service for retired Chief Joseph Eugene Boivin. After the ceremony in front of the station on Congress Street, Boivin’s flag-draped casket, which sits atop the department’s former 1952 American LaFrance Engine No. 1 at center, was escorted to his funeral service at St. Athanasius and St. John Catholic Church.

Firefighters from across Maine salute the arrival of the Rumford department’s former 1952 American LaFrance Engine No. 1 bearing the flag-draped casket of retired Rumford fire Chief Joseph Eugene Boivin during Wednesday morning’s memorial service at the station on Congress Street.


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