Patton Named Fire Chief

TREMONT — Wayne Patton has been named chief of the Tremont Volunteer Fire Department. He replaces Brad Reed, who held the job for more than 20 years.


Wayne Patton is the new chief of the Tremont Volunteer Fire Department. — MARK GOOD
Wayne Patton is the new chief of the Tremont Volunteer Fire Department. — MARK GOOD

Mr. Patton was appointed chief at a March 10 meeting of the fire department. He has been assistant chief for the past five years.

Keith Higgins, who had been serving as lieutenant, has been named assistant chief.

Mr. Patton started with the fire department on a part-time basis in 1983, while still an active member of the Coast Guard. He decided to join after learning firsthand that the department needed more volunteers.

“We had a fire in the house,” he said.

At the time, Mr. Patton was stationed in Rockland. His wife, Janet, and young family were living in Bass Harbor. They had just purchased, but hadn’t installed, smoke detectors. Fortunately, the batteries had been installed. One day, an alarm sounded. Ms. Patton had to rush through the burning kitchen to get the couple’s young baby out of a bedroom. The fire department was called.

“The fire truck arrived but the guy driving the truck couldn’t get water out of it,” Mr. Patton recalled. It was another five or 10 minutes before firefighters who could run the equipment arrived on the scene.

The home sustained so much damage that it was unlivable and the family was forced to move.

In September 1987, Mr. Patton retired from the Coast Guard and became a full-time member of the department. He remembers his first fire call as a member of the department – a false alarm.

An alarm had sounded at a summer cottage off the Clark Point Road. Mr. Patton was behind the wheel of the first fire truck on the scene. While backing down the narrow driveway to the cottage, the fire chief directed him to cross an old culvert.

“The next thing you know I’m looking at clear blue sky,” Mr. Patton said. The culvert had collapsed. “I thought, ‘This is a great way to start off a career.’”

One of his goals as chief is to make more hands-on training available to firefighters, Mr. Patton said. He said he would also like to increase team spirit.

Mr. Patton said he sees the fire department as employees of the residents of the town.

“We want to make sure we give them the best service possible,” he said.

When it comes time to back the department, the townspeople have been very supportive, he added.

Mr. Patton said the department is seeking volunteers. Anyone interested should attend the monthly business meeting of the department, which is held at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month at the Bass Harbor Fire Station, to pick up an application. Members will vote on potential trainees at another meeting.

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