ROCKLAND, Maine — Rockland Fire Chief Charles Jordan Jr. said he was hooked on firefighting during a blaze that destroyed a three-story warehouse that housed tires.
Jordan recalled that fire nearly a quarter century ago as he announced Thursday his decision to retire as the city’s fire chief, effective May 1.
He has been chief for 10 years and on the volunteer call division for 15 years leading up to his appointment as chief.
The most senior member of the full-time fire department staff, Jordan, 52, said he believes it is time to pursue other interests. He also said that he believes people should stay in government service for a limited time and then return to the private sector. In his case, he said he wants to return to his previous job as a commercial real estate appraiser.
Jordan said he joined the volunteer department 25 years ago because he wanted to serve his community, but that a major fire at the former Sea View Garage on Main Street is what got him hooked. He recalled waiting in the doorway of his house for his wife to return home so he could respond to the fire on a January evening in 1990.
“I remember the couple that lived in a cottage-type home next to the garage leaving their home that night, thinking they would never be returning to it. But by the end of the night, the house was saved and they were able to come back,” Jordan said.
The chief said that leaving the fire service will allow him to have more time with his family and will let him get a full night’s sleep.
“The pager goes off every time there is a fire or an ambulance call. Last year, we had 2,000 calls. Many of those come at night,” he said.
The experience of being with the fire department for 25 years and 10 as its chief has been a great experience, he said. He said he has enjoyed working with the crews and has had the full support of city managers and city councils.
“I have been blessed,” Jordan said.
When Jordan was hired in December 2003, councilors heaped high praise on him.
“If you designed the perfect fire chief, you would come up with Charlie,” then Councilor Mark Curtis said at the time of the hiring.
Jordan had been convinced to join the call division of the fire department by two other call members who were playing golf at the Rockland Golf Club when he managed it.
“I was reluctant at first but on the first night at the station I felt like I was home,” he said at the time he was named chief.
He became a lieutenant in the call division in 1992 and a captain in 1995.
He succeeded Raymond Wooster as chief.