2014-04-18 / People

Kennebunk names new fire chief

New department boss moving over from Sanford to replace longtime chief
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

Jeff Rowe Jeff Rowe KENNEBUNK — Jeffrey Rowe of Kennebunk, fire chief of the Sanford Fire Department, has been selected as the new fire chief of Kennebunk Fire Rescue.

Rowe will succeed Chief Steve Nichols, who will retire at the end of May.

Rowe was hired as a firefighter at the Sanford Fire Department in 1982. Most recently Rowe served as assistant and lieutenant fire chief for eight years before accepting the position of fire chief three years ago.

During his time at Sanford, Rowe lent his abilities to surrounding communities, including Kennebunk, from 1997 to 2010, when he served as a volunteer member of Kennebunk Fire Rescue.

During that time, Rowe said, “I got to know many of the members, including Chief Nichols.”

Rowe attended Oklahoma State University, where he earned a degree in fire safety and management.

Throughout his 35-year career, Rowe has trained with the National Wildfire Coordinating Group and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He also currently serves as the chairman of the state of Maine Emergency Medical Services Board and the vice president of the Southern Maine Emergency Services Board.

In addition to his training in fire safety, Rowe has been a certified Emergency Medical Technician for his entire career. He competed for the job as chief in a pool of more than 80 applicants.

When Rowe was asked if his eventual plan was to work in Kennebunk, where he has lived for the past 18 years, he said, “It just happened to present itself and that’s the way it worked out.”

The fire department in Sanford is structured differently than in Kennebunk and that will be a slight adjustment, Rowe said.

“It’s a different make up. We have 45 fulltime in Sanford and 20 paid call firefighters, and in Kennebunk there are five or six full-time staff, including the chief, deputy, administrative assistants, two clerical folks, and two full-time firefighters.

“It’s just more of a volunteer-based department than Sanford.”

“I think this is just another chapter in my career. Kennebunk is a great department and they have some great employees and volunteers. It will be a continuation of the same type of chief duties.”

Rowe is enthusiastic about making the transition, but said he will remember his time in Sanford fondly.

“I think Sanford certainly has been great to me. At this level I’ve been working with the city manager and city council and it’s been really enjoyable. Sanford is on the move and it’s changing. There are some great employees here that I will miss.”

Attempts to reach Kennebunk Town Manager Barry Tibbetts were unsuccessful.

In a prepared statement released by the town, Tibbetts said, “We couldn’t be more pleased that one of Kennebunk’s own clearly emerged as the top candidate in this in- terview process. He is well-respected in the fire service community and will be a tremendous asset to our executive team.”

Attempts to reach Nichols were unsuccessful.

According to town documents, Rowe’s annual salary will be $83,500. He will begin as fire chief in Kennebunk May 12.

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