Firefighter/EMT and emcee for the evening, Camdan Carmichael

On the evening of Saturday, June 18th, local heroic figures gathered at the Rangeley Inn for the Rangeley Fire Rescue Awards Banquet. The last event such as this was held back in 2017.

As it is with really any group, there needs to be a time of reflection and further, for groups such as this, a moment to honor those individuals who deserve recognition for a job well done.

Firefighter and EMT Camdan Carmichael did a superb job as emcee for the evening, balancing sincere words of praise with good natured razzing of several fire fighters, and especially Chief Bacon. Bacon in turn was sure to tease him right back and it set the tone for much laughter throughout the evening.

Carmichael, “Tonight, we are here to celebrate you folks. You the firefighters, the police officers, the EMS providers, dispatchers, and few community members that have truly gone above and beyond. 365 days, year after year, you dedicate your lives to serving and protecting the citizens and visitors of the town of Rangeley.”

Following an opening prayer given by Rangeley Fire Chaplain Benjamin Wetherill, Select Chair Cynthia Egan offered her words of appreciation. Egan confessed that it wasn’t until she became a selectperson that she discovered the varied tasks fire and rescue responders performed on a regular basis.

Assistant Chief Dennis Marquis acknowledged the need to gather at events such as these to review actions in the past, “…not only to learn from it but to also celebrate the successes we have had.”


He went on to recognize and give thanks to the individuals and businesses that regularly help support the department. One such group of individuals was The Rangeley Fire Ladies Auxiliary.

Marquis, “You may not be aware that the Ladies Auxiliary raises money throughout the year through dinners, bake sales, raffles, and other events to fund what they do for the community. And what they do is commendable, indeed. In addition to serving the Fire Department the Ladies help victims of fire loss, provide educational scholarships, publish an annual community calendar, provide refreshments for the annual Children’s Christmas party, and many other acts of kindness.

A call to the Ladies Auxiliary will bring food and other sustenance to Fire Department members during a large, prolonged event. It’s always nice to see their smiling faces at a call offering a cup of coffee and something to eat.

I have to say that one of my favorites is Doris’s donuts. Ladies, thank you for what you do.”

Ladies Auxiliary President Denise Mercier

Ladies Auxiliary President Denise Mercier not only gave thanks to her supportive group of women, but offered a brief history of the group, what they do, and what is to come.

Mercier, “The first auxiliary meeting was held on October 16, 1980, at Company #1 Fire House on Pond Street. There were six members present.


Flash forward to 2022 (42 years later) and we currently have 17 members.”

Current members were honored for their years in service, and Mercier made sure the group in attendance was well aware that “This group of ladies are the best and will not hesitate to jump in at any time to do what is asked.”

The group is pretty amazing, especially when you see that over half of them have volunteered for over 30 years. Zelda Clark is the longest volunteer, helping and guiding since the group started 42 years ago.

Mercier also announced plans for a big July 3rd fundraiser that will include a dunk tank with firefighters, police, and other local community volunteers.

There were dozens of awards given throughout the evening. Some of the highlights include the following.

NorthStar Rangeley Base Supervisor EMT/Advanced Harold Schaetzle gave a recognition award to EMT Stephen Grant Jr. for fifteen years of dedicated and “flawless” service.


Police Chief Russell French recognized police officer Jared Austin for 15 years of great service to the community.

Fire Chief Michael Bacon gave awards to two businesses in town that were deemed dedicated supporters of Rangeley Fire & Rescue.

The first was Bald Mountain Camps during calls that take place near Mooselookmeguntic Lake.

Rangeley Police Chief Russell French, Camdan Carmichael and police officer Jared Austin receiving award for 15 years of service.

Bacon, “Whether we have a boater in distress or a snowmobile accident,  a quick call to either Steve or his sons, and help will be sent directly to the scene. Countless times throughout the year no matter the season, they are right there by our side.”

Stephen Philbrick of Bald Mountain Camps was on hand to graciously accept the award but also took the opportunity to thank not only the groups present but also the staff at the town office and the rest of the selectmen. He also made a special tribute to Assistant Chief Dennis Marquis. “I want to point one gentleman out who was an inspiration for me. Mr. Dennis Marquis. I have looked up to him literally and figuratively.  This man has dedicated his entire adult life to the service of Rangeley. Please give him a round of applause.”

Fire Chief Michael Bacon, Northstar Rangeley Base Supervisor EMT/Advanced Harold Schaetzle, and Assistant Fire Chief Dennis Marquis

Although no one was on hand to accept the award, Bacon still wanted to acknowledge the exceptional service of M&H.


Bacon, “They are there for us and the community year after year. They have helped us and donated time and resources to help with projects such as fire association land, as well as work on our training site. Sometimes, this company, I think, might even keep us in business as a fire department.”

The crux of the evening was spent giving unit citations, life-saving, meritorious awards, and in particular describing 6 emergency calls where responders went above and beyond in one way or the other.

A looped slideshow also helped to show the amount and variety of calls and training exercises throughout the past several years.

Among the other groups that were present to accept awards were members from Rangeley Police, Rangeley Public Works, Border Patrol, NorthStar, and Franklin County Regional Communications Center.

A unit citation was given for acts performed in July of 2019 but special mention was given to Gordon Sikes (aka “Tiger”) who received a Meritorious Action award.

Bacon, “The next firefighter it was found had one of the most important jobs that day. Tiger had quickly been assigned to hold cervical stabilization on an injured female who had landed in the bushes in a ditch. Captain Sikes doing as instructed knelt in this ditch holding her neck as stable as possible. He fought off cramps and bugs and didn’t move an inch. We later were told by the operating doctor that if her neck had been moved at all she would most likely have been paralyzed.”


Gordon Sikes receives a Meritorious Action Award

Toward the end, Fire Chief Michael Bacon’s told an anecdote about a young elementary school girl at Rangeley Lakes Regional School who asked him if he was a hero. He pondered the question and posed it to the group in attendance.

He started by offering the definition, “A person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” He went on to describe his department, his role in it, and finally, his answer to the little girl.

“ARE YOU A HERO? A question like that will reverberate in your mind when it comes from such a young and innocent mind. It will make you question your actions over the course of your career. Have I done everything I could? Have I always acted in the best interests of those I am trying to help? Have I lived up to the expectations of my mentors? Those mentors, who in my eyes, I viewed as true heroes.

Rangeley Fire Rescue is more than just a fire department. We cover the emergency needs of an area that is roughly 650 square miles. A misconception within the public is that we only fight fire, but we know that’s not true. Yes, we fight fires, but we do so much more. Vehicle accidents, traffic control, high angle-low angle rescue, boat, ATV, and snowmobile rescue…and the list goes on and on. We educate and evaluate. We get out into the public and help those in need, whether we are picking up a prescription or bringing a pellet delivery down into a basement for a citizen in need. We are always helping. You are always helping.

Every first responder had to make a choice at the beginning of their career and that choice was to dedicate themselves to a purpose greater than themselves. They are dedicated to serving their communities. Whether you decided to join EMS helping those who are sick and injured right down to the fire police doing traffic control to protect those working in the roadway at an accident scene.

The police officer. Alone on call during the middle of the night who, without second thought, pulls that reckless driver over. Dark and in the middle of nowhere. No idea what the next moment may bring. Back up more than 20 minutes away. Do they have a second thought in doing their duty?


The dispatcher pulling long hours sitting in front of a computer screen on a relatively slow evening to all of a sudden seeing all the phone lines lighting up with multiple reports of fire and other incidents going on, having to juggle multiple radio frequencies and multiple agencies.

Fire, EMS, Law Enforcement, no matter the time of day, no matter the weather, will respond without a second thought, without hesitation, to any emergency thrown at them. The type of situations or emergencies that have citizens running away, they will run in and do the job.

Now to answer that question posed to me by that little girl. Are you a hero? My answer was ‘No I am not a hero.’ And if I recall correctly, I pointed her towards Captain Grant, Sikes, and Wakefield and said, ’No, but they are.’”

I serve in a company, a department of heroes. Thank you”

I don’t have the space to print the list of honorees, but suffice it is to say the list was long and the awards well deserved. Some of the events relating to lives saved were really remarkable. Chief Bacon and Dennis Marquis had to pick from the 1600 calls received over the last 4 years. One in particular stands out to me.  If you see one of these fine folks, ask about that incident with the live hand grenades!

A final note, if any group is in need of volunteers, this one is. While the Rangeley community continues to grow, it also continues to age.  For the safety and wellness of us all, we need new people and as many trained volunteers as we can. Help is needed in more than one area. You might be surprised at how helpful you can be. Please consider.

Comments are not available on this story.