June 18, 2018
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Ellsworth fire chief retires, deputy picked as successor

Courtesy photo | BDN
Courtesy photo | BDN
Retiring Ellsworth Fire Chief Jon Marshall
By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

ELLSWORTH, Maine — After a 40-year career with the local Fire Department, the last five of them as chief, Jon Marshall officially retired Friday.

The Ellsworth Fire Department’s deputy chief, Richard Tupper, has been picked to succeed Marshall and is expected to be confirmed as chief when the City Council meets July 18.

Marshall’s office looked spare on Friday as he packed up his things so Tupper can move in. Seated at his desk, Marshall said he had accomplished some changes he wanted to make when former Chief Bob McKenney retired in 2006. Now he wants to spend more time with his family and to give someone else the chance to spearhead other changes.

“It’s time to uncommit from a few things,” Marshall said. “Yeah, I’ll miss it. This building has been home for 30 years. It’s like a family.”

Marshall became a full-time firefighter in Ellsworth in 1981 but was a volunteer for 10 years before that, starting before he graduated from high school.

He said he hopes to spend more time at the camp in northern Maine that he and his wife, Ellsworth police and fire dispatcher Patricia Marshall, bought a few years ago — where there is no Internet or cell phone reception, he pointed out. He plans to stay busy at Woodlawn Museum, where he’s vice president of the board of trustees, and with the Ellsworth Noontime Rotary Club.

Marshall said he is pleased that City Manager Michelle Beal has picked Tupper to become chief. He said his deputy will be able to head up the department with new vigor and a fresh outlook, which will help the department meet ever-evolving challenges. Recruitment, new regulations and equipment, and the department’s need for more space are among the things Tupper will have to address, he said.

“That’s really what I wanted to see happen,” he said of Tupper’s appointment.

Tupper said earlier this week that had thought about applying to become chief one day, but that Marshall’s retirement announcement earlier this year caught him by surprise. Tupper, who started as a volunteer in 1985 and was hired as a staff firefighter in 1989, has been deputy chief since 2006, when McKenney retired and Marshall was promoted.

“I’ve always liked being able to help someone in need,” Tupper said. “I’m really happy to be doing it.”

Beal said Wednesday that Tupper was one of 56 people who applied for the job, including some from as far away as Afghanistan and Washington state. She said Tupper stood out through his leadership qualities — he recently led the department’s process of acquiring a new ladder truck, she said — and with his familiarity with the community.

“Richard just stood out from everyone else because he has great focus, ideas and understanding of what we need,” Beal said. “[But] Jon Marshall will be sorely missed.”

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