WELLS, Maine — The town’s new fire chief had his first day on the job Monday.
Chief Mark Dupuis raised his right hand and took his oath of office during a special ceremony held at the town’s new public safety building on Route 1. His family, fellow firefighters and local town officials attended the ceremony, congratulating the new chief and offering their support and encouragement.
“I would like to say how extremely honored I am to be here and humbled to be chosen as the Wells, Maine fire chief,” Dupuis said moments after he was sworn in.
Dupuis succeeds Chief Wayne Vetre, who died this summer after a yearlong battle against lung cancer.
In his remarks opening the ceremony, Town Manager Jonathan Carter welcomed Dupuis, telling him the fire department and the community are grateful for the leadership he will provide.
“We are here to celebrate you and encourage your creativity and innovation in the fire science program for the Town of Wells,” Carter said. “We are very appreciative of you stepping in and carrying our load for us.”
Before calling Dupuis to the podium to take his oath, Carter said he had heard that Dupuis had wanted to become a fire chief since he was 5 years old.
“Well, five rings a bell because you are our fifth, full-time single fire chief for a town that’s 366 years old,” Carter told Dupuis.
The Wells Fire Department consolidated under a single chief in 1988.
Dupuis will lead a department of nine firefighters, three of whom are captains, and a call force between 10 and 20 members. He also will lead the town’s Emergency Management Agency and team of 30 lifeguards. As well, he will be responsible for the fire department’s annual budget of $1.3 million.
The Wells Fire Department Color Guard posted colors at the start of the ceremony. The fire department’s pastor, Dan Moore, offered a blessing. Town Clerk Jessica Keyes administered the oath.
Dupuis has an Associate of Science degree in mechanical engineering technology, and a Bachelor of Science degree in fire and emergency management. He earned his Executive Fire Officer’s Certificate from the National Fire Academy in Maryland.
Dupuis starts his job in Wells this week after serving a long period with his hometown fire department in Rochester, New Hampshire. He started there as a firefighter in 1988 and rose through the ranks to become lieutenant and fire marshal. In 2011, he became the department’s assistant chief. In 2018, he retired from the department. His retirement occurred roughly a year after Rochester City Manager Dan Fitzpatrick passed over him when selecting a successor for outgoing Fire Chief Norm Sanborn. Fitzpatrick’s decision to hire someone outside of the department for the position of fire chief drew criticism from many — including Sanborn, who had been grooming Dupuis to succeed him.
On Monday, fellow firefighters from the Rochester department attended Dupuis’s swearing-in ceremony. Dupuis expressed gratitude to them, referring their shared experiences of responding to fires, accidents and other emergencies over the years and working together to keep Rochester safe.
“We’ve been through a lot together,” he said to his former Rochester colleagues. “We’ve had many sleepless nights together. We experienced some great times and some difficulties along the way … You are all my heroes. Your presence here means more than you might realize. Thank you for being here for sharing in my success.”
Dupuis also acknowledged the impact that Sanborn had on his career.
“Without his vision for me, I would not be here today,” Dupuis said.
Dupuis thanked his family — his wife, Penny, and their daughters, Courtney and Delaney — for their love, support and sacrifice. He also thanked his parents and his sisters for their “encouraging words as I began my career in this dangerous profession” and as he moved up the ranks in their hometown fire department. He told them all he loved them all.
Dupuis also thanked town officials, such as Carter, Police Chief Jo-Ann Putnam, selectmen and members of the Fire Chief Selection Committee. He particularly thanked Linda Rizzo, the fire department’s administrative assistant. Rizzo organized Monday’s ceremony, which included a table filled with refreshments, and she also has been key in helping Dupuis transition to his new position.
Dupuis capped his remarks by addressing the Wells firefighters with whom he now works.
“It is now time to take the next step — to work together in this highly respected organization known as the Wells Fire Department,” Dupuis said to the firefighters. “I am so proud to be a part of your department, and I promise to do what I can to ensure your safety and to create a positive working relationship and an environment that will allow each of you to be the best that you can be.
“I am grateful for this incredible opportunity.”