OTISFIELD — Like many others in the fire service industry, Kyle Jordan has helped to keep it all in the family by becoming the town’s fire chief.

Jordan was appointed by Otisfield selectmen Jan. 7, after Chief Mike Hooker stepped down.

Jordan’s grandfather, Carroll Fickett, served as Otisfield fire chief for five years in the early 1950s. His father, Tony, served as an assistant chief and deputy chief in town. Tony is still a truck lieutenant in the department, even after 53 years of service.

“He was very proud,” Jordan said of his father. “It choked me up a little bit when he called to say, ‘Congratulations,’ and ‘I’m proud of you.’”

Jordan is entering his 30th year of service with the Otisfield Fire Department. He started there in 1985 as a junior firefighter when he was 16 years old.

“It was an opportunity for a kid to hang out with his dad,” he said.

It was Jordan’s father, along with members of the Otisfield Fire Department and current area fire chiefs, who have helped him along the way. He began to climb the ranks in 2006, when Hooker approached him about being an officer and named him assistant chief. Jordan was later promoted to deputy chief, which is second in command.

There’s nothing Jordan wants to change immediately since Hooker left the department in good shape, he said. Jordan said the outgoing chief has grown the department during his nine years at the helm, revamping operating guidelines, bringing it from the paper age to paperless age and increasing the fleet.

Jordan said he has huge shoes to fill. “I’m not going to try because I can’t. I’m going to do the best I can do, but I can never try to do what anybody else did,” he said.

“I can’t say enough how much I admire Mike for his leadership and appreciate his mentorship and his guidance in what he’s done for me personally, not only as a firefighter, but as a chief officer,” Jordan said.

Lucky for Jordan, Hooker has agreed to stay on as a captain in the department. And others are now stepping up into leadership roles. Hooker’s assistant chief, Jared Damon, will now serve as Jordan’s deputy chief. And Damon’s wife, Beth Damon, who was in charge of emergency management services, is the new assistant chief and the first female chief officer in the department’s history.

“Not that gender has anything to do with being a firefighter because it’s not a man or a woman thing; you’re a firefighter,” Jordan said, acknowledging that men previously dominated the fire service industry. “But that’s changed, and that’s a very good thing.”

The new fire chief said his recent promotion is not about him, but the fabulous team he works alongside. There are 22 people on the department’s roster, all of whom are volunteers. Jordan, who’s receiving a $5,000-a-year stipend as chief, said his crew is paid for training and going to calls, but it’s not why they’re in the business.

“It’s not their day job,” he said. “They give up their personal time, their family time, to be firefighters. … These guys …  put in hours and hours and hours. It’s a tough job and it’s a dangerous job. We don’t work in a city fire department, but the potential is still there for something bad to happen.”

Case in point was the two fires that ravaged homes on Route 121, which were about one-and-a-half miles from each other, at the end of November and just before Christmas.

“Big fires like that take their toll on a municipal budget … but that’s something we’re prepared for,” Jordan said, adding that Otisfield and other departments rely on mutual aid to combat large blazes, assist at accident scenes and help with other emergencies.

Jordan said his department is funded with money from the town, along with funds raised by the nonprofit Otisfield Volunteer Firefighter Association. The association has purchased equipment for the department and has its collective eye set on buying an all-terrain vehicle for rescuing people in the woods.

“They’re a very, very useful piece of equipment,” he said, adding they allow emergency personnel to remove people from the woods in a more efficient and safer manner.

The ATV would help firefighters get to blazes in remote areas where vehicles can’t travel. The goal is to raise $27,000 for the vehicle and the association is about halfway there, with fundraising ongoing and donations currently being accepted.

“Time is money. Time can be a life,” Jordan said. “As an extension of our Fire Department, we have a First Responder Program, which has proven time makes a difference.”


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