RUMFORD — Robert “Bob” Chase announced that he is resigning as fire chief to accept the position of deputy chief with the Auburn Fire Department.

Chase, who was promoted to Rumford fire chief in August 2009, told the Board of Selectmen on Thursday, “I leave with mixed emotions. I’m anxious for what lies ahead.”

Selectman Mark Belanger, who was on the board when Chase was hired, said, “I want to thank you, Bob, for your service. You’re going to be missed.”

The four board members present (Jim Windover was absent) then walked one by one where Chase was standing at the lectern to shake his hand.

Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs said she “regretfully accepted” the resignation, adding that they are developing language for an advertisement to gather applications from those interested in filling the chief’s position.

“In my tenure here, he has been a wealth of knowledge,” Briggs said. “I have received positive reviews from other community members, and elected officials from other communities, referencing his ability to train in a manner that the entire class absorbs.”


Briggs said she challenged Chase to expand his networking opportunities by attending the Leadership Maine program.

“Regretfully, for the town of Rumford, but, kudos to the city of Auburn, for recognizing these same qualities in Bob,” she said. “This doesn’t sit easily with me as the community will feel this loss, but I don’t want to stand in the way of this opportunity for him.”

She said Chase, who will begin his new job Jan. 2, will stay on part time through the transition process to care for some of the administrative tasks.

“I encourage those who are currently employed in the department to consider this position for their own professional development,” Briggs said.

Looking back over his time as fire chief, Chase said that when he first took over, the department and town were in turmoil because budgets had been slashed and staffing in the Fire Department had been reduced by 25 percent.

“The members of the department really didn’t know what the future held for them,” he said. “It took time, but I think we achieved stability and sense of security to be able to continue on with our mission. I feel like right now there is a sense of trust and respect for the department that had been missing for a long time.”


Chase said he’s proud that he worked with the late Gary Wentzell, while he was the Mexico fire chief, to jointly purchase the ladder truck.

“That project really set a precedent for how towns can work together and I often get calls from other towns about the agreement as they try to build regional collaboration,” Chase said.

He said he is also proud to have helped bring a fire science program to the Region 9 School of Applied Technology.

“I have been fortunate to work for great town managers, with great people, and be able to lead the best firefighters in the state,” he said.

Chase said he’s looking forward to the challenges at a larger department in a bigger municipality.

“I think it will challenge my skills and force me to become a better leader,” he said. “I am hopeful it will open doors for me to continue my education and make a difference for the fire service throughout the state.”

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Rumford Fire Chief Bob Chase has accepted the position of deputy chief with the Auburn Fire Department. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)

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