BAR HARBOR, Maine — A firefighter who has been with the local fire department for more than two decades has been named the department’s new chief.
Assistant Chief Matt Bartlett will take over the position on Jan. 2. He replaces David Rand, who retired from the chief’s position at the end of June. Rand, a former fire chief in Lincoln and assistant fire chief in Bangor, was Bar Harbor’s fire chief for 19 years.
Lyman “Joey” Kane, the department’s interim chief since the end of June, also is retiring. Kane said Thursday that he has been with the department for 35 years and decided not to apply for the permanent chief position.
“After 35 years, it’s a personal decision to retire and to let a younger generation take over,” Kane said.
Kane said, despite his retirement, he plans to stay affiliated with the department in some capacity.
In a prepared statement, Dana Reed, Bar Harbor’s town manager, said 91 people from around the country applied for the job. Bartlett received unanimous support from the town’s search committee and other department heads, he said.
“I congratulate Matt on his many achievements and wish him a long and successful career in service to his fellow Bar Harbor citizens,” Reed said.
Bartlett said Thursday that he has been with the department for 22 years, 17 of them as a full-time firefighter. For his first five years, he was on the department’s on-call staff. He had been a captain with the department prior to his being named assistant chief in 2010.
Bartlett said he is looking forward to serving the town in a new capacity. One of the first things he would like to address as fire chief, he added, is boosting the number of on-call firefighters on staff. He said the department has 10 full-time firefighters now and another 13 on call. He said he would like to have 20 on-call firefighters on staff.
“It’s certainly not a problem unique to Bar Harbor,” Bartlett said of the difficulties in recruiting on-call firefighters. “It’s a problem nationwide.”
Bartlett said he is aware that there has been discussion among town officials about building new space for the fire station, either at a new location or expanding at the existing site on Firefly Lane, next to the Village Green. Bartlett declined to comment on that issue, however, saying that he has not been involved in those discussions and needs to get up to speed on what the concerns and options are.
Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.