MARIAVILLE — Karen Murray will lead the Mariaville Volunteer Fire Department after being named to replace Fire Chief Scott Baron, who stepped down last week. Murray served as deputy fire chief for five years but first moved up through the ranks in her 23 years with the department, serving as firefighter, lieutenant and captain before assuming the deputy chief role.
Baron will remain with the department as fire lieutenant, Murray said.
“It takes a lot to run a volunteer fire department,” she said. “And that’s not even including any of the calls we go on. It’s time for him to step down to spend more time with his family.”
Murray should know. Baron is her cousin and responsible for bringing Murray to Mariaville. Once there, seeing him and other people she got to know in town serve as volunteer firefighters got her interested.
“And doesn’t everyone want to help their community?” she said. “So, I thought, heck, I’d give it a shot.”
A native of East Millinocket, Murray arrived in the Ellsworth area after her Eastern Maine Community College business degree landed her a job with Dexter Shoes. She now is manager of the global relations team at The Jackson Laboratory, in charge of the mice orders and delivery around the world apart from the U.S.
“Scott was already living in the Mariaville area,” she said. “So, I kind of was drawn out here because he was there. It’s a great community. People are always willing to help anybody else when they’re in need, and everybody appreciates each other.”
As a firefighter, Murray is certified as Firefighter I and II, and is one of three firefighters in the department who are certified for interior firefighting. She’s also an emergency medical technician (EMT) and a certified instructor for Firefighter I and II training.
“It grew into something that I really loved to do,” she said. “I love being a firefighter, I love teaching people about firefighting, and I love the EMS side of it as well.”
“I don’t think you ever leave a fire scene or an EMS scene without some of that staying with you,” she added. “It’s learning how to deal with those things later on. I’ve had a lot of great people in my life that have helped me to know that a male-dominated field can also be done by a woman, so that’s been really good for me.”
She credits the influence of the late Bobby Dorr, a former Ellsworth Fire Department deputy chief and instructor at the Hancock County Fire Academy, and Lt. Amanda Corson of the Trenton Volunteer Fire Department along with “many other people I know” for her success.
The Mariaville VFD has 17 firefighters on its roster, including four fairly new recruits, Murray said. It provides fire and EMS service to Mariaville and Otis.
“There’s a job for everybody in the Fire Department,” Murray said, “and I encourage anybody in any town to reach out to their fire department and find out what they can do to help them:”