Dover Foxcroft, Maine — It was February 1964. After waiting several months, Joseph Guillot was contacted by Fire Chief “Old Red” Whitman for a reserve position in the Fire Department.
He moved to Dover-Foxcroft the previous year, worked as a radar operator at Charleston Air Force Base, and met Bonnie, a local girl whom he married six months later.
“He handed me a rubber raincoat and boots three sizes too big,” Guillot said, remembering the used helmet and rubber gloves he was given. “I said, ‘Red, it doesn’t suit you.’ And he said, ‘Put on another pair of socks.’ He said, ‘Come when the whistle blows.'”
This was the beginning of Guillot’s journey at the Dover Foxcroft Fire Station.
Guillot, 81, who has been a firefighter for nearly 60 years and has served as chief of the fire department for 38 years, will retire at the end of this month. This change was part of changes taking place throughout the County of Piscatakis, when his three other chiefs also decided to retire and pass the reins to the younger leaders. Guillot cannot imagine not doing this job, so he continues to spread his knowledge on a departmental and national scale.
“Even in the Air Force, I should have read about radar and studied for my next promotion, but I was taking firefighter classes,” he said, noting that his firefighter father gave him some pointed out that it had an impact “I don’t know why I decided to do this, but I just love it. I always have it. It’s my life.”
From January 1, 2023, Deputy Chief Brian Gaudet, 41, will lead the department. He is preparing to take over the station when the influx, which began a few years ago, approaches 700 this year. In 2020, 380 calls were recorded. This includes everything from a house fire to a cat stuck in a tree, Gaudet said.
Thirty years ago, if the department had 100 calls, the crew was busy, Guillot says.
“You won’t believe what we fought,” he said. “God, I love you. I remember hanging out the window on the second floor, coughing, and feeling nauseous because I didn’t have an air pack on. rice field.”
The department has expanded its arsenal of trucks and tools during Guillot’s tenure. These include Jaws of Life, which first responders use to separate passengers from vehicles, and cameras that can see passengers through smoke. A 2012 tower ladder and his 2022 engine are the latest carriages at the station, one of which arrived just over a month before him.
During Guillot’s nearly 40 years as chief, no occupant died in a building fire, he said. He vividly remembers one day in his 1970s when he came home and cried. Now he reminds his neighbors not to seal their doors with plastic during the winter.
Firefighters and paramedics respond to medical emergencies and have mutual aid agreements with surrounding towns and Northern Wright Mayo Hospital, but Dover Foxcroft’s department is the largest in the county. Even the sheriff’s office calls crews for service and accommodates snowmobiles at stations.
People expect someone to be there they can call in case of trouble, said Guyotte. And it’s open year-round during the summer months when the town attracts a lot of visitors.
They also cook 200 pounds of bacon for the town’s annual maple breakfast and help firefighters clean up the station for Santa’s visit with the kids after the Hometown Holiday Parade each December. I rely on Mr.
Guillot is an energetic leader who has always been passionate about serving the town in a variety of capacities and has advocated for fire department improvements and team opportunities, said town manager Jack Crooky. I have been working with him since 2004.
Joseph Guyotte (left) searches for memorabilia in his office while packing. His second fire chief (above right) helmet at Dover Foxcroft is his one of many items Guyot has collected and will be donated to the Fire Department’s Fire Museum. Guyot (bottom right) helps the truck back to the station bay. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN
It’s part of the job, and the community has generously supported fundraising efforts including the Dover Foxcroft Firefighters Association Boot Drive, County City Food Booth, Ice Fishing Derby and more. People also donated equipment for the department and building materials for the museum.
“The townspeople of Dover have been kind to the fire department,” he said. This is his one of the most rewarding parts of his career.
In addition, there is a case where a mother called a boytte for fire education at a school that conducts fire education once a year for children from pre-kindergarten to 4th grade. Her children refused to go to sleep because the house’s smoke detector wasn’t working, so he brought her his 9-volt battery, which she needed, so that it could Considered a triumph of his book.
Another standout moment was when Guillot discovered in the 1970s that the late Foster Gray, who responded to a fire in his kitchen decades earlier by home firefighters, left the department $150,000. It was when
They used part of the money to buy equipment and invested the rest. Over the years, the Firefighters Association invested in this account as needed and used the funds to build the Firefighters Museum at the Piscatakis Valley Fairgrounds. The museum, which houses eight devices, is a great passion project for Guyotte. They put his $5,000 back into their accounts each year from fundraising.
Guillot is a sentimental man. He is a collector of antique fire extinguishers, firefighter patches and Smokey the Bear posters. He is full of stories about how he found old things that once belonged to the department and took them home to display in the museum. and a 1922 American La France fire engine.
“Its history. Nothing can replace it.
A figurine of Dalmation wearing a fire hat and a family photo adorn the window sill. The other side of the room was overflowing with firefighter’s helmets, trash cans containing metal and leather varieties. These were once owned by locals and will be kept in the museum.
Strong leadership and a lasting relationship of trust with the town’s leaders and residents will also last, Guillot said, as Gaudet has what it takes. he said he has
“Whether you’re wearing a white helmet or a black helmet or sweeping the floor, we’re all in this together,” said Gaudet, who sees the profession as a vocation. “We’re him one big family and we work as one big family.”
Thanks to Guillotte’s drive, the foundations have already been laid, he says, and he is happy to have him by his side as a mentor and advocate when problems arise. It’s been done and there’s no place that someone hasn’t suggested. Go see what he knows. ”
Guyotte will continue to serve as Director of the National Volunteer Fire Council and Historian on the Maine State Federation of Firefighters’ Commission. He is also one of the Maine Directors of the New He England Volunteer Fire & EMS Coalition, who teaches classes to small town firefighters.
Guyotte received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Maine Firefighters Convention in Freiburg earlier this year.
He said he is looking forward to the new year and is sitting and grinning instead of leading the meeting. He also wants to spend more time with his family.
His son John is a fire chief and his daughter Holly Bell of Sangerville is a dispatcher. Her daughter Priscilla Quinn lives in California.
“We have a very good department,” he said. “We have years of experience here. It’s time to say