FARMINGTON — After 21 years leading the Farmington Fire Rescue Department, Terry Bell is handing off his chief’s hat, saying it’s time.

Selectmen on Tuesday night accepted Bell’s resignation, but expressed gratitude that he’ll stay on in the department in a lesser role.

Fire Rescue Chief Terry Bell Town of Farmington photo

“We look forward to his continued service to the Fire Department in other positions,” Selectman and firefighter Stephan Bunker said.

Bell joined the Fire Department in April 1977, and has served as chief since June 2000. His last day will be Nov. 30.

“Thankfully he’s going to stay in the department, stay active,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Matthew Smith said. “He’s just stepping down as chief. We thank him for what he has done for this community over the years.”

In a letter to selectmen, Bell gave credit to the Fire Department’s members and town officials for contributing to his successful term.

“I have done my best to ensure the betterment of the fire department and protection of the community I have lived in all my life,” Bell wrote in his letter of resignation. “This would not have been possible without the efforts of all our fire department’s members, as well as the support of the manager, select board, other town departments’ staff and the community.

“I have enjoyed being the chief and it is time for a new chief to help further the betterment of the department and community,” he said.

“It was just time,” Bell said Wednesday when asked about his decision. “I’ve done it for 21 years.”

A pivotal moment in Bell’s tenure came on Sept. 16, 2019, when the former LEAP building on Farmington Falls Road exploded, killing his brother, fire Capt. Michael Bell, and injuring seven others, including other firefighters and a LEAP employee.

Despite that loss, Bell said his experience as chief has been enjoyable.

“The people are great. The selectmen, town manager made it easy to work here. The citizens have been great to work with and for.”

Former Chief Robert McCleery did a great job, Bell said, adding that he hopes he has carried that forward.

Under Bell’s leadership, the Western Maine Public Safety Training Facility became a reality in 2020. The idea and concept of a regional training center had been in the works for more than 10 years.

In 2019, a $539,964 grant was awarded for the project by the Maine Fire Protection Services Commission. The facility was built in 2020 off the Seamon Road on Regional School Unit 9 property. Firefighting students in the Foster Career and Technical Education Center and other departments may train at the facility after clearing availability with Farmington Fire Rescue.

“I’m still going to be around,” Bell said. He then quipped, “I’m not going too far unless I get a great offer.”


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