BANGOR, Maine — Fire Chief Jeff Cammack thought Monday night’s City Council meeting would be a routine one.
The only Fire Department-related item was a fairly nondescript motion to authorize the city manager to execute a collective bargaining agreement between Bangor and a firefighters union.
“I almost considered not coming since I figured my [council agenda] item wasn’t going to be debated,” Cammack said afterward.
Good thing he did. If he hadn’t, he would have missed an honor guard presentation by members of the Bangor Fire Department saluting Cammack’s 35 years of service as a firefighter, the last 16 of which were spent as Bangor’s department chief.
“It was a good send-off and a nice surprise,” he said.
Cammack, who will officially leave his post Wednesday, said there are many things he’s proud of seeing through during his tenure, but a couple of things in particular came to mind.
“I think the fact that we went from one ambulance to three and we now have a developed paramedic service are things I’m quite proud of,” Cammack said. “EMS [Emergency Medical Services] is the biggest part of what we do.”
Cammack also broke his silence regarding the recent citizens’ initiative referendum on the City Council’s plan to shift Bangor’s emergency dispatch services to Penobscot Regional Communications Center as a cost-saving move. The shift was rejected 76.6 percent to 23.4 percent.
“I can speak now, seeing as how I’m retiring in two days. I think the citizens spoke loud and clear on that issue,” Cammack said. “I think that issue was overwhelmingly supported by the voters even more than the arena was, and I think the council should take notice of that. That was a public safety vote and not only a dispatch vote.”
“And Bangor is unique from other communities in this state. We’re only a city of 31,000 people, but we act bigger than Portland. We act like a community four times our size because of the services we provide.”
Cammack said he isn’t second-guessing his retirement decision.
“I didn’t just wake up one morning and say this is the time,” he said. “I’m going to be 55 in April and it’s a good time to go. I’m healthy and I feel good.”