RANGELEY — All through high school, Michael Bacon had planned to go to college for law enforcement.

That all changed in 1993 when he helped firefighters on Islesboro, where he then lived, to load firefighting gear onto boats to respond to a structure fire on a neighboring island. The fire turned out to be arson.

He went to college for fire science.

Bacon, today a veteran firefighter and instructor, became chief of the Rangeley Fire Rescue Department in June. He talks about the lure of the fire service, helping people and “the brotherhood.”

Name: Michael Bacon

Town: Dallas Plantation

Age: 43

Job: Fire chief

What age did you become a firefighter? I started in emergency medical services around the age of 16. I started firefighting as a junior firefighter at 17.

How did you become interested in becoming a firefighter? It was actually by accident. I helped the Islesboro firefighters loading gear and rolling hose when help was needed during a structure fire.

Did you work your way up the through the ranks or hire on as chief from the beginning? I did work my way up through the chain of command. I spent many years learning the job as a firefighter. I did however skip from firefighter to captain and from there moved up the ranks. At the time, the department I was on was in need of a fire instructor to teach the crew, so I stepped up. I had received my instructor certificate in the early ’90s. After teaching a few classes I became hooked on teaching. I decided to get a pro-board certification in Fire Instructor I & II and started teaching throughout the state for the Maine Fire Service Institute. I’ve found that I really enjoy teaching within a field that I’m so passionate about.

What do you like about the fire service? That’s a hard question to answer because there is so much that I love about the fire service. First there are those who you work with and train with each and every day, the “brotherhood.” Those of us in the department really consider us part of a family . . . the brotherhood. It’s a bond between all of us on the department, and I feel very few jobs have that type of camaraderie.

Secondly my personality is that of a helper. I enjoy working with my fellow firefighters in helping people no matter their need. It could be anything from a hurt finger to a life-and-death situation, and I take a great deal of pride in being there 24/7. 

Third, every day you come to work it’s different. You have no idea what calls will be thrown at you or what problems may need to be solved. Being there for your community, there’s no better gratification.

What brought you to the Rangeley Fire Rescue Department? Since there were so few fire chief positions available in the area (where I was living), my family and I had been looking to move outside of Maine. It was the Friday deadline for the (Rangeley) position when I was directed to the Rangeley job posting by a fellow fire instructor who thought I would be a good fit for the position. My fiancee, Hannah, and I are expecting twins this December and wanted to provide a better community environment for them. She grew up in Addison and I grew up on Islesboro. We were searching for that small community feel where everyone knows and looks out for each other.

So when I saw the Rangeley posting I immediately applied. For my second interview I was asked to bring Hannah along. We explored the town with retiring Chief Tim Pellerin and met with firefighters and citizens. That second interview lasted almost three hours and at the end Rangeley had a new chief. We felt so honored to be offered the job. We are truly looking forward to being a part of the community and can’t wait to raise our family here.

Is it difficult to separate your emotions from your work when dealing with a bad fire or accident? Yes and no. The important thing to remember as a first responder is that we are there to help during someone’s worst day. I always ensure that myself and my team do everything physically possible to ensure a positive outcome for those involved. I even make sure I am available days or weeks after the emergency to assist however possible. Firefighters may need to talk about the call and family members may still be looking to put the pieces back together.

Rangeley Fire Rescue Chief Michael Bacon of Dallas Plantation gives instruction during basic car extrication training in July. (Capt. Tiger Sikes photo)  


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